GDA Breaks Ground On The Phil And Macki Singer Visitor And Education Center
Five times each year, a new group of students, ranging in age from 18-year-olds to senior citizens, arrives at Guide Dogs of America’s northeast San Fernando Valley campus to learn the skills that will enable them to travel, work, shop, and live life with independence.
Located since 1982 on a 7.5 acre campus in Sylmar, Guide Dogs of America is proud to announce the school broke ground April 13, 2014 on the Phil and Macki Singer Visitor and Education Center.
Webcam (Front View)
Webcam (Rear View)
Inspired by Guide Dogs of America’s spirit of inclusion as well as independence, the center will allow the school to grow its community outreach and education programs and build upon its services to blind and visually impaired men and women in Los Angeles and across the United States and Canada.
Phil and Macki Singer, supporters of Guide Dogs of America since 1994, facilitated this expansion. When Phil Singer passed away in 2004, a significant and generous gift was dedicated to the school, which has allowed construction of this center. In addition, Macki Singer has pledged to raise an additional amount dedicated to the new center.
Guide Dogs of America’s services are provided at no charge to guide dog recipients; however, the cost to produce a qualified guide dog companion, train the guide dog and recipient as a team, and provide the follow-up services that ensure safety and effectiveness throughout the team’s working life, is $42,000. Last year, 54 guide dog teams graduated from the school.
Guide Dogs of America breeds its own specially selected Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds. At 7 weeks of age the puppies are placed with pre-screened volunteer puppy raisers. More than 300 families volunteer to provide Guide Dogs of America puppies with a nurturing and enriched environment.
After 18 months, the dogs return to Guide Dogs of America for evaluation, after which the school’s state-licensed trainers use positive reinforcement to train them to become guide dogs. Each dog will learn more than 40 commands before being expertly matched with a blind student. A first-time guide dog user spends 28 days on the school’s campus and around Los Angeles, learning to work as a team with his or her new guide dog.
Guide Dogs of America’s services reach thousands of individuals annually. The speakers’ bureau serves schools and events. Currently, more than 1,300 schoolchildren and community groups visit the campus each year for a free 90-minute educational presentation and tour conducted by a volunteer puppy raiser accompanied by a Guide Dogs of America puppy-in-training.
About Guide Dogs of America
Guide Dogs of America, an International Guiding Eyes program founded in 1948, is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to providing professionally trained guide dogs to qualified visually impaired individuals. Founded in 1948 by Joseph Jones, Sr., a retired member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Guide Dogs of America has graduated more than 3,200 guide dog teams. Guide Dogs of America receives no funding from government agencies. All donations come from caring individuals, businesses, foundations, clubs, and organizations as well as through wills and bequests.