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Community Leaders

By Rob Ray Brazell

“Good neighbors are community leaders. I am grateful for those who have demonstrated so much loving support over the decades. Thank you!”
— Call 720-359-1541 or use our CONTACT page for links to our last set of blogs about community leaders.

Camp Williams






Camp Williams – Rob Brazell, R2W Founder, Sergeant Logan Jubeck and Sergeant “Bulldog” Dellinger

Return weekly for new blogs about community leaders including Fern Ballou – Model Employee, and StaffCV – The Long HaulAnd other blogs about events, and other interesting news.


Ashley King, Angel Flight Central

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Community Leaders – Karen Bordner & Don Ellis

For decades, Karen and Don have made time in their busy schedules to pick up and forward the mail, water plants, and care for my home when I was traveling.  They have also conducted multiple home repairs for me over the decades, and cared for me when I was too ill to take care of myself.  Even after they moved several miles away.  Over the decades, they have also given a loving home to several elderly dogs including greyhounds rescued from racing tracks.  Hearts of gold!

Don was an award winning radio personality who broadcast nationwide for years.  Karen was a highly successful marketing executive for years — you should see their wall of Platinum records!  Today, they own and operate KD Residential Investments, Inc.

Karen served on R2W Board of Directors.  She is also a Life Member of the Board of Directors, Colorado State University Alumni Association, and has served as R2W’s principal Point Of Contact with multiple organizations.  Both Don and Karen advise R2W about R2W House (R2W Village) and our Service Learning Internships program for Home Restoration.  Soul restoration.

More than once, my father said, “They are a rare breed”. Karen and Don renew my faith in humanity.  They make me aware of how wonderful our community is and I am deeply grateful.

Good neighbors = community leaders.

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Fran Nixon Award 2018

Octogenarian Earns Lifetime Achievement Award

Updated Jun 20, 2020

ENGLEWOOD, FLORIDA— Jenna Lonsdale didn’t let her disability define her. She proudly worked at Nielsen Market Research Company in Venice. She did great there until she lost her job when the office closed.

Jeanna, R2W client

The 28-year-old Englewood resident was one of 396 workers laid off in April. In five years, she had only missed one day of work. She was told to file for unemployment. There were several setbacks for Lonsdale. She doesn’t drive and there’s no public transportation from her neighborhood to areas where she could apply for work at area pet stores, day care centers or libraries.

“The problem is unemployment tells you to apply for five jobs a week,” she said. “It’s very hard to do when you don’t drive.”

Another challenge with her disability is she fidgets when she’s nervous and believes it sometimes doesn’t make for a good first impression. A little frustrated, Lonsdale needed help but wasn’t sure where to turn.

Her life changed after learning about the Return To Work program in Punta Gorda. It helps job seekers engage with employers. It also matches client interests, abilities and aptitudes that helps get them a long-lasting job they enjoy and find rewarding.

It’s where she met Fran Nixon, the Missions Operations Manager, and her team. They worked to help Lonsdale connect with local employers and transition back to work.

In time, Lonsdale had the training she needed to go to work at a preschool a short distance from her home.

Lonsdale recently shared her testimony as an honored guest at a special awards ceremony for Nixon at Boca Royale Golf & Country Club in Englewood.

Fran Nixon Award 2018

Pastor Hosea Cannon Jr present Fran Nixon with a gold medal, coin, and lifetime achievement award from President Trump.

Nixon was bestowed the Lifetime Achievement Award signed by President Donald Trump.

The Charlotte County resident, who is in her 80s, was lauded for volunteering more than 1,000 hours in a year and given a gold medal and 4,000 accumulative hours.

Nixon, who helped her own son Rob Brazell, found Return To Work 20 years ago in Colorado, is considered a “tough as nails, but always a lady.”

Nixon expanded the program in Florida and managed the contract with Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation agency. She also provided services to newly enabled job seekers, a job that caused her to travel statewide to meet them and their families and the employers. She periodically attends White House teleconferences, advocates the Return To Work program throughout the region and recruits new applicants, works with mentors and other volunteers in the Service Learning Internship mission.

“Part of Mom’s daily task is to pray for Return To Work clients and all of the people that it touches,” Brazell said.

Rob Brazell, R2W Founder, received a gold medal from President Obama.

Brazell told the crowd his mother exceeded the requirements for the President’s Volunteer Service award. She was given an official pin, medallion and a framed certificate. The award is an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service and administered through the Points of Light organization. It celebrates the impact people can make in their community and the world.

Nixon credits her success in helping touch the lives of 8,500 applicants and others throughout the year to God. She is a member of the First Church of Christ Scientists in Englewood and the mother church in Boston.

“We have a very diverse organization with no limits to make a difference for abled to disabled clients,” she said. “We work with a hodgepodge of people who will fit in regardless of their background. It takes a nation to help.”

Nixon said she had to learn the software for the system. With the help of Brazell, she said, it made a difference in advancing their program and even more people find jobs.

Nixon shared several success stories. She also thanked Nikki D’Agostino, the client services specialist at Return to Work for her drive in positive outcomes and lasting placements for local employees. She also thanked her son and close friends who never let her down. She said local companies including Weiler Engineering Corp. in Punta Gorda and several others have been instrumental in helping provide meaningful jobs to Return to Work clients.

Shortly after meeting Hosea Cannon, a pastor and chaplain at the Denver Sheriff’s Department, Nixon joked she loved him and wanted to adopt him as her own. Cannon flew in to give an inspirational speech at Nixon’s ceremony.

Cannon reinforced Nixon’s lifelong choices in helping others. He explained there’s simple keys to success in life.

“God is in control,” he said. “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Appreciate your family and learn to love them. Forgive immediately your sister, mother, brother. Focus on what’s good. Be kind.Volunteer often. Look down on others to only help them up. Love your neighbors as you love yourself.”

For more information about Nixon’s program, visit www.return2work.org.








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“…Thank you so much for being such a great support to Jamie. She loves her job and it warms our heart to see her so happy and feeling like she is part of the community. We have you and your agency to thank for that.

Many Blessings to you.

Tama [Jamie’s mom]”




Carly, R2W STEM Intern

I very much enjoyed working for R2W. Not only was everyone very kind, supportive, and patient with me while I was learning the ropes, but they all love working for R2W. The enthusiasm everyone has for what they do comes through clearly and makes for a pleasant, passionate community and work environment. While I was broadening my skillset, I got a perspective of the struggles the veterans and their families face when it comes to finding work: something I hadn’t had any insight or experience with at all previously. I worked hard and enjoyed working hard. Overall it was a very meaningful experience to me, and one I would recommend to others without hesitation. 

MOM – My daughter had the opportunity this year to intern with R2W and I felt that she gained invaluable insights into the struggles that veterans and the disabled encounter when trying to secure meaningful employment.  Working an honest day’s work and the sense of identity that it brings for someone who has had many challenges was eye opening for her.  Having heard me talk about the struggles my own brother helped bring this experience full circle.  [Rob Brazell, Founder] and the R2W team displayed a passion and drive to help everyone possible, including making may daughter’s experience as impactful as possible.  I would absolutely recommend R2W to anyone looking to help out in this difficult area.

Carly conducted a special 2 week STEM internship for her Senior project in May 2017-  80 hours. She continues to volunteer, helping train new STEM Interns and supporting R2W professionals placing injured veterans into lasting careers.


Kim Anderson, R2W Employment Specialist

Kim Anderson trained Carly how to use StaffCV– advanced technology donated to R2W for many years.  It distinguishes R2W from others and enables STEM Interns to make a significant contribution to society.  We all serve.

StaffCV is an amazing company!  They’re from New Zealand and don’t have a stake in our wars but they’ve given and given and given for years.  They’ve demonstrated not only the American spirit but also the human spirit that heals wounds and restores families.  Everyone at R2W is tremendously grateful.

ReadyTalk is also a key donated technology.  Only blocks from R2W’s headquarters, they too have demonstrated great patriotism for years.

Mary Ellen, Volunteer

A number of fellow residents of Anthem Ranch and I were tasked with calling veterans re being part of a data base to test potential products that might help veterans return to work after their service.  While many of us were reluctant to be part of such a calling effort, it turned out to be fine as most of the time we just left a message which was provided for us to work with.  When I reached people, they were able to say they had work, were grateful for the information and in one case were still in service but actually pulled over out of traffic to talk to me because he considered “Return2Work” an important organization.



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Happy New Year – Community Leaders

Community Leaders

by Rob Brazell

I’d like to thank Steve Zimmermann and Howard Foster, my pilot and Mission Assistant on a recent Angel Flight West mission to serve R2W clients.  They made a material sacrifice that enabled me to realize R2W’s mission and I am deeply grateful.

I’ve taken many Angel Flights over the years.  10 years ago, I remember taking three small planes from my hometown airport in Boulder, Colorado to a military base in Montana where I gave a motivational speech to injured soldiers and their families.  Talk about a group of caring people who just give and give and give!  Each leg was a compelling story about the American spirit and I felt tremendously privileged to be part of something so good.

Steve, Howard, and I had perfect weather as we flew over the Rocky Mountains.  It was exhilarating.  I felt renewed as I always do on Angel Flights.  There’s just something about flying 10,000 to 20,000 feet above the earth.  So Angel Flights are a double benefit for me.

Steve Zimmerman says, “Volunteering my aircraft and piloting experience for Angel Flight missions is a joy: everyone gets something out of the deal. My passengers get to where they need to go for their medical treatments, and I get to share my love of flying. If the beauty of flight can take a patient’s mind off their illness for an hour or two, so much the better.”

The following pictures are from Steve.

Thank you again and again, Steve and Howard.  You are good people doing good things.


More stories:










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In Loving Memory – Alfred “Ray” Brazell

When I was a green rookie cop in Pinedale 1972, Ray was my backup on a domestic call.  The guy at the domestic had a shotgun waving it around.  Being a rookie I was scared to death.  Ray calmly walked up to the guy and jerked the shotgun out of his hands.  Ray was always ready and willing to backup another officer, I had a lot of respect for him.  Darned good officer he was.  I learned a lot from him. 

My condolences to the family.

Hank Ruland
Retired County Sheriff

Alfred “Ray” Brazell 1928 – 2017


Alfred “Ray” Brazell, 89, passed away Christmas morning, December 25, 2017 at Sage View Care Center in Rock Springs, Wyoming. He was a resident of Pinedale, Wyoming for 50 years and a former resident of Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Ray was born on June 5, 1928 in Baggs, Wyoming, the son of Alfred W. Brazell and Ethel Hutchinson.

He attended schools in Baggs, Rawlins, and Saratoga Wyoming.

Ray married Frankie Nixon in Saratoga, Wyoming on June 4, 1950 and divorced in 1976. He married Caroline Boroff on August 15, 1980 in Daniel, Wyoming.

He was a Marine in World War II and worked as a Highway Patrolman for Wyoming Highway Patrol for 35 years, and later retired in 1976. Ray also worked for the Pinedale School District as a bus mechanic, then as a reverse flow tester in the Jonah Oil and Gas Field. He was a member of the Masonic lodge and a founding member of Project: Return to Work Inc. (R2W) in 1998 to help injured warriors and disabled civilians back to work, back to life.  He donated money over the decades and gave speeches to injured warriors at military events about the similarities and differences between service during World War II and current conflicts.  He also mentored injured warriors returning from combat in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as other locations around the world.

Ray enjoyed timbering, fishing, hunting, camping, ranching, horses, and woodworking.

Survivors include his former wife Frankie Nixon Brazell of Port Charlotte, Florida, wife Caroline Brazell of Pinedale, Wyoming; four sons, Rob Ray Brazell of Boulder, Colorado, Chuck McDermott and wife Katie of Dillon, Colorado, Brian McDermott and wife Dolor of Pinedale, Wyoming, Kevin McDermott and wife Tina of Farmington, New Mexico; two brothers, Dale Brazell of Rock Springs, Wyoming, Vern Brazell and wife Luana of Salt Lake city, Utah; two grandchildren, Melina and Tanon McDermott, as well as several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; one daughter, DeLisle Ruth Brazell Webb Lovenlight; one brother Floyd Brazell; five sisters; Alice Whisler, Helen Moore, Eileen Wentworth, Doris Rodgers, and Jane Moore, and his beloved dog, Cindy.

Following cremation a funeral service will be conducted in Spring, 2018.  Contact Rob Brazell at rob.brazell@return2work.org or 720-359-1541 for details. 


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R2W’s 18th Annual Dinner Party & Award Ceremony

R2W celebrated last year’s award recipients at Summit Church in Denver, Colorado on April 20th, 2016.  It was an inspiring event.  See photos and read more about it on our Facebook page.

2015 – Blastoff!

  R2W launches its Mentor program under Admiral Young’s guidance

R2W participates in Military & Veterans Employment Expos (MVEE), hosts classes at community colleges & universities, and engages the community at our annual Day Of Caring event


R2W significantly increases Employment Services & Supported Employment in Florida



R2W’s Founder awarded President Obama’s Gold Medal.

2015 Board Member of the Year

Andy Sesser, Treasurer. Andy mentored Rob Brazell in relearning the financial management skills necessary to run a business. Andy owns Sesser Business Solutions: providing quality accounting software solutions since 1992.

2015 Webmaster of the Year

Nena Gardner. Nena is a Bachelor of Science graduate of Business Management and Information Systems emphasis from the University of Colorado Denver Business School. She has over ten years of community service experience, both as a member, volunteer and in leadership roles. She currently works at Colorado National Guard Family Program’s Office as a Family Readiness Support Assistant contractor. Rob Brazell is her mentor through Colorado National Guard ESGR program and she has been with R2W since November 2015 as a Job Developer/ Webmaster/ & Social Media Coordinator.


2015 Instructor of the Year

Jennifer Cohen. Jennifer is an instructional designer and adult educator with over twenty years of experience working with a diverse population of learners. Jennifer’s background in technology training includes applications for the office, presentations, and the web.  She holds a master’s degree in learning technology and uses her passion for creative problem solving to help others understand complex concepts.



2015 Employee of the Year

Nikki D’Agostino, Employment Specialist. Nikki is particularly drawn to aiding the developmentally disabled, physically and mentally disabled, the underprivileged, and the underemployed. At an early age she began volunteering at Wrentham Developmental Center. She graduated from Suffolk University with highest distinction for a Bachelor’s degree of Science in clinical psychology and worked at Arbour-Fuller Psychiatric Hospital where she served dual diagnoses patients (mental illness and co-occurring drug addiction).  She worked as a Career Specialist for two years at a non-profit organization in Massachusetts. She says, “Working as an Employment Specialist at Project: Return to Work Inc has given me the opportunity to work with employers to strive for equality and diversity in the workplace, ….  I am always pushing myself to learn new skills and knowledge so that I can be a better leader, organizer and advocate for those less fortunate than myself.”

2015 STEM Interns of the Year

Edward Fenwick. Ed Fenwick recently graduated from the Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center. He moved from the United Kingdom in 2009 and has lived in Kalamazoo since then. Ed participated in the Assistant Job Development Internship as well as the Assistant Technical Support Internship. He is a member of the Gull Lake Area Robotics team and does research at Western Michigan University.

Rhett Sandal. Rhett Sandal is a student at Silver Creek High School in Longmont, Colorado.  He set the standard for Job Developers and Tech Support Specialists.   He is active in the Robotics and Music field, and likes to help people with their technology problems.


2015 Volunteer of the Year

James Spencer, Employment Specialist. After a successful career in business Jim became disabled and found how difficult it is for a person with a disability to find a job. This personal experience convinced him he had a responsibility to apply what he had learned in business to improving this situation. For additional preparation he returned to school, completed a Master’s degree in Administration and a Masters in Rehabilitation Job Services. This combination of experience and education in the profession has created opportunities for him to work with clients with disabilities from the assembly line to the board room. In 2008 he published “Job Search 101.” Since then he has helped develop job service programs in several nonprofit organizations and been guest lecturer to degree candidates in Rehabilitation Services. Career search is his passion. His motto is “Everyone deserves an opportunity to acquire and hold a good job. Disability should not be a factor.

2015 Model Citizen

Greg Lind, Farmer Insurance Agent. R2W’s Founder says, “Greg Lind saved me a bundle of money on my car and homeowners insurance. He also donates monthly and mentors key people. Greg is a model citizen and I am deeply grateful for his community leadership.”




Lifetime Achievement

Frankie R Nixon Brazell, Missions Operations Manager (MOM) & Founder. Fran has worked tirelessly for nearly two decades to create a self-sustaining operation in Florida. She is a model leader and has placed many disabled Americans in meaningful careers. Fran worked in Administration at the First Church of Christ Scientist and as a Team Lead at the US Bureau of Land Management. Fran also owns and operates NAC Business Consulting.


R2W Programs

Tier 1 & 2: Direct Recruiting

Tier 1 clients are not injured and Tier 2 clients have completed their vocational rehabilitation.     They are “job ready” and can radically speed up the employment process by utilizing automated features and online classes.

Tier 3 & 4: Service Learning

Tier 3 clients are severely injured and need vocational rehabilitation. Tier 4 clients are so severely injured that gainful employment is not realistic but supported employment adds quality of life. Service Learning internships utilize donated technologies to quickly zero in on specific work tasks that excite clients, bring out their resiliency, and achieve stabilization more quickly.

Tier 3 & 4: Employment Services & Supported Employment

R2W provides an array of traditional vocational rehabilitation services for Tier 3 & 4 clients. These clients frequently require months or years of intensive service.

Our Services


Clients evaluate themselves in a fraction of the time. Our psychometric profiler asks questions in a creative way to assess client aptitudes and preferences. R2W counselors performs a follow up evaluation to complete a plan. The plan identifies the client’s career goals, personality traits and interests — along with traditional factors such as work experience — in order to match them with potential employers.


Clients enroll in vocational programs, higher education, and/or R2W’s Service Learning program. Additional career counseling includes resume critiques, successful interview / presentation strategies, business and career etiquette, and more.


R2W counselors utilize donated technologies and innovative methods to match applicants with employers for unprecedented positive outcomes – lasting placements.


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R2W Connects With CU’s Volunteer Resource Center

Get ready for CU’s Spring 2016 Volunteer Fair! Start your new year off with helping others and come join Project: Return To Work (R2W) and other organizations to learn more about the volunteer and internship positions available.

Project: Return To Work has many STEM internships available including, assistant job developer, assistant employment specialist, assistant technical support specialist, and assistant technical support specialist.  Other opportunities include grant writing, fundraising, marketing, and much more. We aren’t only looking for students. We hope to connect with staff who would make great mentors for R2W! Be sure to stop by and check us out to get more details about how you can get involved with this amazing organization! Browse around on our website to learn more about us in the meantime at www.return2work.org.

The event will be held on January 13, 2016 in the Glenn Miller Ballroom from 10AM-2PM. Check out the Volunteer Resource Center’s website under events for more information.



CU Boulder’s Volunteer Resource Center (VRC) just launched their 50th anniversary event last month!  Shannon Petro, Volunteer Coordinator and Office Manager, represented R2W.  The event recognized the history of VRC’s beginnings as well as the founder of the organization.  Not only did the founder present his take on volunteerism and how he started the organization, but other students shared their experiences and how it impacted their lives directly.

VRC helps connect students to volunteer opportunities in the community. The VRC has a lot of great ways for the students to get out and about to support a cause that is special to them.  One of those ways is through their Alternative Spring Break Program.  This program sends students to locations where you can participate in social and environmental justice issues.

The volunteer resource center has many great connections within the community and it is a great way to get started in civil service.  Not only will you get to benefit those in need, but you too will gain valuable experience and participate in meaningful volunteer opportunities.

Check out their website for more information at http://www.colorado.edu/volunteer/

R2W offers four STEM internships to students from high schools, colleges, and universities in multiple states.  R2W also offers other student internships.  Some include credit and/or small stipends.  Follow the GET INVOLVED links at www.return2work.org for details about all volunteer positions at R2W.

Edward Fenwick, Student Intern

Paige O’Connor, STEM Intern


Montek Thind, STEM Intern

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2015 Day of Caring – 9/11

August 14, 2015



Help Needed at United Way’s 2015 Day of Caring to Connect Veterans with Jobs


BOULDER—Project: Return to Work, Inc. (R2W) helps returning veterans, including wounded warriors, and disabled citizens to find meaningful careers with living wages.


The non-profit organization is seeking 25 volunteers to man its call bank during Foothills United Way’s 2015 Day of Caring on September 11th, which will be held at facilities donated by Office Evolution. R2W will train volunteers to alert job seekers that they’ve been matched with potential employers, and also connect them with professional counselors to prepare them for their interviews. This year Safeway—which has a strong track record helping veterans—is recruiting for a number of positions.

Volunteers can register via www.return2work.org (click on GET INVOLVED) or Foothills United Ways Volunteer Connections (click here).


“So many of us want to thank our service people,” notes Rob Brazell, R2W president. “The annual Day of Caring event lets volunteers use state-of-the-art technology—all of which has been donated by sponsors like ReadyTalk, StaffCV and Microsoft—to connect active duty service members, veterans and military spouses to meaningful jobs.” After the half-day event, interested volunteers can continue their service by working independently to match over 8,500 R2W participants to the best positions.


R2W also seeks to recruit new employers and sponsors for the Day of Caring event as well as for long-term involvement. (R2W suggests an optional contribution of $175 per posting to cover core costs.) More sizable private industry sponsorships to support career counselors and STEM interns are also needed. Contact Jason Kamp at http://www.return2work.org/contact-us or (720) 359-1541.


Edward Fenwick, Student Intern


Day of Caring: 8:00 AM – Noon, 4845 Pearl East Circle, Suite 101, Boulder, CO 80301

There will be a picnic afterwards at United Way location. Bring your laptop!



Thank you!









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A Mother’s Love

Non-profit organization needs your donation to keep its mission alive.

“Thank you for your service,” the phrase civilians often use when they encounter military personnel, seems inadequate considering the sacrifices these warriors have made.

Please give lasting thanks by making a donation to Project: Return to Work Inc. (R2W). This national organization honors returning veterans by matching them with employers who need their skills. R2W’s unique approach slashes the job-search timeframe from months or even longer to just minutes compared to services provided by government agencies. Since 1998, R2W has helped thousands of returning vets, military spouses and disabled civilians find jobs commensurate with their skills, aptitudes, and interests.

Founded by former aerospace engineer Rob Brazell, his mother, Fran Nixon, and lifetime mentor, Malcolm D. Crawford, R2W was initially conceived to help people with disabilities. Brazell, who had recently recovered from a terminal illness, decided that “instead of building rockets and satellites I would start R2W to help myself and other disabled people transition back to employment and self-worth.”

Combining Nixon’s human resources and government background and Brazell’s technology prowess, the mother-son team launched the software-driven job search organization 17 years ago and gained a successful track record placing civilians. Brazell’s father, Ray, a WWII Marine, Uncle Floyd and Uncle Dale, a WWII Army Veteran, then helped expand R2W’s mission to include veterans—especially wounded warriors—and their spouses. Nixon, a state-certified vocational rehabilitation counselor in Florida, procured and fulfilled government contracts while Brazell, accompanied by the late Sargent Douglas “Bulldog” Dellinger, gave motivational speeches at military bases, prompting hundreds of injured soldiers to sign up for R2W’s innovative services.

“R2W’s achievements would have been impossible without the devotion of my mother, who not only nursed me back to health during my illness and helped me launch a model business but also came out of retirement to help save it years later”, Brazell says.

Four years ago Nixon, emerged from retirement again when a car accident left Brazell with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder—injuries identical to those of hundreds of the veterans R2W had served. Nixon has covered many of Brazell’s former duties since his accident, and this proud son credits his mother with keeping R2W afloat during his ongoing rehabilitation. On a personal note, Nixon purchased a puppy for her dog-loving son this Christmas, and she hopes to persuade the breeder to donate a puppy to a returning vet.

“Today R2W is thriving with fewer resources thanks to donated technology tools and bright young volunteers who understand how to use them,” says Brazell. “Without new funds, however, we’re in danger of losing grant money that is crucial to our mission. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation this holiday season.”