Disabled people loving on therapy dogs at Home of Guiding Hands

The Home of Guiding Hands (HGH), a non-profit organization that provides services, training and advocacy to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families, recently hosted its second annual “Pizza and Pets” event at its Verbeck Center headquarters in El Cajon.

In honor of Disability Awareness Month, about 40 HGH clients, along with about 20 direct-care staff, came together for paw shakes, kisses and an abundance of affection with therapy dogs from the Love on a Leash organization. Love on a Leash volunteers and their furry friends are dedicated to brightening someone’s day and providing comfort and stress relief to people of all ages in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals and nursing homes.

“It was a wonderful event where our clients enjoyed pizza and snacks followed by a time of interfacing and bonding with the therapy dogs in such a beautiful way,” said Mark Klaus, president/CEO of HGH.

HGH clients live independently in their own homes and communities of choice, as well as one of 31 HGH-operated homes in the San Diego area communities of El Cajon, Lakeside, San Carlos, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley and Santee.

Founded in 1961, HGH is one of the largest providers of supports and services in San Diego and Imperial Counties serving more than 3,200 children, adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism. In addition to residential services, HGH operates a Respite program, Life Planning trainings and an early childhood program, along with transportation services and counseling with family support services.

HGH’s 45th annual Gala will be held Saturday, June 8, at the US Grant Hotel, Presidential Ballroom, 326 Broadway, Downtown San Diego. Registration will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner starting at 7 p.m., along with an awards program, live auction and fund-a-cause paddle raise. Live music will begin at 9 p.m. from The Mighty Untouchables. This year’s theme is “Disco Inferno.” For ticket information, visit www.guidinghands.org.