Susan Lechtanski Named 2022 Nancy and Robert Fierer Spirit of Volunteerism Awardee

Susan Lechtanski Named 2022 Nancy and Robert Fierer Spirit of Volunteerism Awardee

What do volunteers for Susquehanna Service Dogs do? They raise and sit our assistance dogs in training, help with the dogs in advanced training, give demonstrations, maintain our property, help with team training and public access tests, and so much more. Our volunteers make a difference in the community and in the lives of partners and their assistance dogs.

SSD is pleased to announce Susan Lechtanski as the 2022 Nancy and Robert Fierer Spirit of Volunteerism awardee. This annual award is given to a volunteer who has supported and exemplified the mission and vision of Susquehanna Service Dogs.

“Susan is a passionate ambassador for Susquehanna Service Dogs and a mentor for other volunteers,” said Deb Tack, SSD’s director. “She’s always one of the first to lend a helping hand.”

Susan has been a volunteer with SSD since 2016, when she joined SSD’s puppy raising program, Roar for More, at Penn State in State College, PA. She first heard about SSD two years earlier, though, when one of the first Penn State student puppy raisers would bring SSD Diesel to her office in the afternoon.

Although Susan started as a puppy sitter, she quickly became more involved, expanding her working knowledge of the proper cues and the training process for assistance dogs. As a sitter, she has impacted dozens of assistance dogs in training, giving them an opportunity to learn a new routine and experience new environments.

Susan’s volunteer work with SSD has taken her across state lines, as she has transported puppies by plane from Denver and by car to Ohio, New York, and Maryland. She facilitates local community outreach events throughout the Centre Region and presents to various clubs and organizations. For those in the State College area, she and SSD Kelp, the Ambassador Dog she adopted, may be familiar figures as they visit the community and share the impact of Susquehanna Service Dogs and how assistance dogs change lives.

SSD Kelp accompanies her to home visits for potential puppy raisers and sitters. Susan also helps to educate Penn State staff on assistance dog laws and best practices for the University’s athletic, entertainment, housing, and dining facilities to make the University more inclusive.

Within Roar for More, she assists with weekly classes, helps coordinate special outings, and manages Roar for More’s social media accounts. And of course, she enjoys helping to socialize SSD’s youngest puppies.

“They say these dogs change lives, but they don’t tell you that the first life they change is yours,” said Susan. “I have met some of the most amazing people I’m honored to call friends and mentors. Someone is always willing to offer their expertise or lend an ear to help you and the puppy you’re raising to find their true path.”

Congratulations, Susan!

Susquehanna Service Dogs is looking for volunteer puppy raisers to start in December with our youngest puppies in training. Learn more and apply today.