19 November 2018

Transforming lives with Assistance Dogs

Filed under: Latest News

People living with a physical or developmental disability or suffering from a mental illness will be empowered to lead more independent lives with Lowood Masonic Lodge and Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland teaming up to support Assistance Dogs Australia.

The $1,000 donation will go towards the specialised training of their canines in Queensland, who by the two-year mark will be able to assist a physically disabled person with household tasks such as loading the washing machine or helping to remove items of clothing. Others will be able to respond to the signs of anxiety in a child with Autism or an adult with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

Lowood Masonic Lodge’s Marty Harmsworth said members have supported Assistance Dogs for almost a decade, but it was the first time they had joined forces with Hand Heart Pocket, who have doubled their impact.

“We love what the organisation stands for and the difference these animals make to the individuals and families that they are assigned to. This is why we’ve been loyal supporters of theirs over the years,” Marty said.

“It’s terrific that our donation has been matched by Hand Heart Pocket, enabling Assistance Dogs Australia to do more.”

A Queensland representative of Assistance Dogs Australia was appreciative of this latest donation.

“We receive no government funding and rely solely on the generosity of the public. It’s because of the ongoing support of those like the Lowood Freemasons that we’ve been able to place 48 dogs across Queensland in our time. This includes placements in educational facilities,” Cherie Bekker said.

Typically, it can take two years and over $35,000 to train an Assistance Dog. This covers everything from food, vaccinations, training, placement and a lifetime of follow-up care.  

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said providing a hand up for charitable organisations that have limited access to other funding was central to their long-term strategy.

“This initiative ticks all the boxes. Transforming the lives of Queenslanders through the placement of Assistance Dogs aligns with our values which are about alleviating suffering and empowering people to lead better lives. The initiative also supports one of our strategic focuses which is about improving men’s mental and physical health,” Gary said.

“It’s great that we could maximise the charitable efforts of Lowood Masonic Lodge so that a bigger difference can be made at a grassroots level,” he said.

As an independent charity founded by the Freemasons of Queensland, Hand Heart Pocket helps in areas of state-wide and local need that have limited access to other funding. We work with other charities to identify and fund initiatives that have real, life-changing potential. We also collaborate with Masonic Lodges across Queensland and help individuals in times of extreme need to get them back on their feet. We use our funds wisely to give a hand up – not a handout and to build potential.

Photo credit Christine Aitken

Find out more about the charitable work of Hand Heart Pocket