Robin Abels and Valerie Jones both found their jobs because they believed in a cause. For Abels, associate director of Power Paws, she and her family saw possibilities in raising assistance dogs for people with disabilities. It’s truly a family affair at Power Paws.
Abels daughter, Shoshanna, had the idea in high school and went to California for training. Daughter-in-law Cyndi is the executive director and has an associate’s degree in human/canine sciences.
Robin’s role at Power Paws is to coordinate and recruit volunteers, raise funds for the year-and-a-half training it takes to get a puppy ready for placement, and interview potential clients.
Recently, Power Paws held its third annual Walk n’ Roll Dog Walk, a 5K walk and wheelchair roll. The effort involved more than 500 people, entertainment, volunteers, bands, vendors and coordinating food for everyone. Working with local companies is another crucial element in fundraising. Next up is the Pins for Paws bowling fundraiser in March, which will be presented by Phoenician Properties Realty for Power Paws. “I work with the executive director,” Abels said. “We’re the hub of it all and it goes out from there.”
When Power Paws started six years ago, much of what the founders had to do was get work out about the organization and its purpose.
“I believe you have to be dedicated to your mission,” she said. “When you believe in what you do it drives you to fulfill your mission. When we see the end results- our clients who receive their dogs and how it changes their lives, how it makes them more self confident and more independentyou get up and do it all over again.”
Jones is associate executive director at the Desert Southwest Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, where she has been for the past one and a half years. Prior to that, she spent 10 years at the Greater Southwest Division of the Arthritis Foundation, where she was most recently the chief operating officer.
It all started with her volunteer work. While working in accounting at State Farm, Jones volunteered her time at the Arthritis Foundation. Then they asked her to take on different tasks, eventually leading to her COO post. Making her move to associate executive director at JDRF her daily focus is on fundraising, to reach their ultimate goal of finding a cure.
“No two days are ever the same. You spend a lot of time on the phone. You could be working on event planning or strategic planning or marketing or public relations, all different kinds of things,” Jones said.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation just completed its big annual fundraiser, The Promise Ball.
“It’s year-round planning. You’re always recruiting for your next chair, your next gala director, your next committee, your fundraising corporate sponsorship, filling social tables, putting together videos for the evening,” she said.
That variety is what makes the job, and sometimes the long hours, a worthy task, both women said. Plus there are a number of people in the community who want to help.
“People are willing to help you when they know what it is you’re doing. That’s our goal to build the relationships and the collaborations with the community so the people who want to help know who we are. A lot of it is getting out there and getting people to help,” Abels said.