Local family collecting memorial donations for assistance service dogs

A typical happy trainee at ASDEC.

In small communities like Three Rivers and Woodlake, there are always worthy causes to support. Currently, there is a cause that will help others while in some small measure ease the pain of a loss that for any parent is unthinkable.

One year ago next week — on May 5, 2018 — Elizabeth “Lizzie” Chappell, 26, succumbed to a sudden illness and was unexpectedly taken from her family, friends, coworkers, and this world. Lizzie was a kind and compassionate soul who cared for and loved animals deeply.

The St. John’s School building in Woodlake is 105 years old and home to the Assistance Service Dog Educational Center.

After looking at a number of nonprofits in the area, Lizzie’s parents, John and Shelley Chappell of Three Rivers, found their match in creating a legacy for their daughter: the Assistance Service Dog Educational Center. The ASDEC’s home base is the historic St. John’s School in Woodlake.

In 2002, Gerald and Donna Whitaker of Woodlake founded ASDEC. They were retiring from their careers and were searching for a way to be of service to their community. Being dog lovers, they created a business plan in partnership with the Woodlake schools. Currently, students participate in an afterschool program and receive hands-on experience by training and caring for service dogs-in-training. The dogs — golden retrievers — are then placed with applicants with a disability.

Those applicants — including veterans with mobility impairments or PTSD and others who need a seizure or diabetic-alert dog or have sight or hearing impairments, autism, or a serious allergy — are the greatest beneficiaries of all. In the past 17 years, hundreds of recipients have received a devoted, trained canine companion who makes their lives a little more care free and wants only love in return.

Two decades later, ASDEC continues its intensive training programs. To accomplish its goals, the nonprofit relies solely on donations and volunteers.
Whether donating $5, $50, or $500, any contribution will make a critical difference in ensuring that this exceptional program continues for many more decades while honoring Lizzie Chappell and her passion for animals. Donate via Facebook by clicking here.

Donations may also be mailed to: ASDEC, 32785 Road 212, Woodlake, CA, 93286. For more information about ASDEC, call 559-564-PAWS.

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