Support group aims to help elderly, disabled remain connected with animal companions
By Lorie Palmer
A random meeting in the dog park turned into a friendship and an idea for community service.
“I met Dawn at the park, and we started to visit,” said John Moore. Later, a story she told him planted a seed in his brain — and in his heart.
“She told me she was walking her rescue dog, Gracie, when she ran into an older gentleman,” John explained.
The man called Gracie by name and, curious about how he knew the dog’s name, Dawn struck up a conversation with the man.
“As it turns out, he had surrendered his dog to the shelter because he got sick and could not care for her,” John relayed. “He told Dawn it was the most difficult decision he had ever made.”
John grew up on a dairy farm in Mississippi, “with every animal imaginable,” he laughed. This allowed him to get to know animals deeply and learn to love and care for them.
When his mother died about two years ago, he continued to try to honor her through his actions by helping those in need; however, it wasn’t until he spoke to Dawn at the dog park that he came up with the idea to form a local support group to help those with pet needs.
“Because of the COVID pandemic and the fact my mom was in a nursing facility, I was not able to see her regularly at the end of her life,” John said. “I have always been a mama’s boy and I wanted to please her — I think this would have pleased her very much.”
John and his business-partner husband, Ryan Cummings, care for two rescue dogs, and he said he knows how much a part of their family their four-legged friends are.
“I’m a 49-year-old grown man, but one of our dogs almost died recently, and let me tell you, it nearly broke me,” he said.
The Dawn Of A New Day will help pair people who want to help with those who need help. John said he would first assess the situation and see how a person can best be assisted, then pair them with a helper.
“The first goal is to support them so they can safely keep their pets in their home,” he explained. This may mean helping purchase food, paying veterinary bills, or helping with walking animals.
As he knows how much people love their pets, removing them would be a last resort.
“If someone has to move into a facility where animals are not allowed, or they are just too sick to care for a pet, even if it’s just for a certain amount of time, then that will be evaluated,” he said. At that time, fostering and/or adopting and visitations would be set up.
“Besides keeping the animal in a person’s home, the goal is to maintain the relationship and keep the animal in the person’s life,” he said.
Dawn, for whom the support group/community service organization is named, will also be involved, and John said she was honored that her experience prompted this idea.
John reiterated that this is a voluntary effort, with no money exchanged.
“This is a community service to help those in need, and I know that we live in such a caring and giving community,” he said. “I hope we can make life just a little bit easier on this planet for people and their pets for as long as we can.”
More information: To volunteer, like The Dawn Of A New Day on Facebook, or call or text John directly at 760-774-9614.
JERSEYS UNVEILED IN PALM SPRINGS: The Coachella Valley Firebirds unveiled their inaugural season hockey jersey Monday at a special unveiling event at the Palm Springs Air Museum. They held the event in front of fans who had invested in season tickets, as well as the first 300 to purchase the team jersey during a blind pre-sale event in December. The jersey prominently features the Firebirds’ red, orange and black logo with a fierce-looking bird breathing fire. The secondary logo on the jersey is a palm tree against a field of mountains. The palm tree has nine fronds, one for each Coachella Valley city. The primary and secondary logos will be included in special color variants for friends, family, and neighbors in the LGBTQIA+ community. The Firebirds will be the 32nd team in the AHL and the minor-league affiliate of the Seattle Kraken. The team expects to begin playing at the Coachella Valley Arena, which should open in the fall, with the Firebirds starting to play in October.
NEW SHELTER LEADERSHIP: Dan Rossi has been named the new executive director of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, it was announced Monday. Rossi will relocate to Palm Springs from Pittsburgh, where he has been leading Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh (HARP) for the past 12 years. During his tenure in Pittsburgh, HARP became the largest animal shelter in the Pittsburgh region, touching the lives of more than 25,000 animals and 30,000 households annually. “I am honored to have been chosen to be the next executive director of Palm Springs Animal Shelter,” Rossie said in a statement released Monday. “The board, staff, and volunteers have already made me feel welcome and part of the shelter family. I’m eager to lead such a progressive animal shelter as well as become part of the Palm Springs community.” Rossie’s first day at the Palm Springs shelter is scheduled for Jan. 31.
ONE-PS ANNUAL EVENT: The 2022 Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs (ONE-PS) Picnic & Community Expo is scheduled for Saturday, March 19 at Ruth Hardy Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is open to all 50 recognized neighborhoods and all Palm Springs residents and their families interested in organizing their neighborhoods. Organizers said Monday that multiple sponsorship opportunities are available at several tiers. All sponsor booths at the Expo are provided with one 6-foot table, two chairs, and two lunch tickets. “This is a great opportunity for your organization or business to connect with the residents of Palm Springs,” organizers wrote. “In 2019, the last year the picnic was held, nearly 1,000 residents attended, and for 2022 we are expecting that many and more to join us again.” Interested in participating as a sponsor? You can email co-chairs Joy Brown Meredith or April Gunkel. The deadline for registration is March 1.
MIZELL CENTER: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers 16 programs and classes today, starting at 8:30 a.m. You can find a complete list of all today’s offerings online here.
JUNIOR BLACK ACHIEVERS: Attorney Jason Buckner will offer a glimpse into the judicial system when he speaks to the Palm Springs Unified School District’s Junior Black Achievers program during a virtual meeting. The event begins at 4 p.m. More information about the Junior Black Achievers program can be found here, or you can email [email protected].
TOASTMASTERS: Toastmasters, a nonprofit educational organization that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of promoting communication, public speaking, and leadership, meets virtually every Tuesday in Palm Springs starting at 6 p.m. Interested in participating? Send an email to [email protected] for more information and the Zoom link.
BOARD OF EDUCATION: The Palm Springs Unified School District Board of Education meets in regular session starting at 6 p.m. in the District Administration Center Board Room, 150 District Center Dr. A complete agenda can be found here. The meeting will be broadcast on the district’s YouTube channel here.
DESERT HEALTHCARE: The Desert Healthcare District Board of Directors meets at 5:30 p.m., virtually, with a meeting of the Desert Healthcare District Foundation Board of Directors immediately following. Viewing and participation instructions, as well as an agenda and related materials for the first meeting, can be found here.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
AWARDS GALA: Tickets are on sale now for the Palm Springs Black History Committee’s annual Black History Awards Gala, to be held at the Hilton Ballroom, 400 East Tahquitz Canyon Way, on Saturday Feb. 5. The gala is the committee’s way of recognizing individuals, groups, and local and corporate businesses contributing to the success and achievements of African Americans and our society. This year’s event begins at 6 p.m. with a silent auction and cocktail hour. Tickets start at $75 and can be purchased at this site.
DWA REDISTRICTING: Desert Water Agency (DWA) needs the community’s input on new electoral division maps and is hosting a pair of workshops to collect that input. DWA plans to redraw its Board of Director election maps based on 2020 Census data and adopt a new map by April 17 for use in the November election. The public is invited to share its feedback on two proposed maps during a Zoom workshop on Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 12 p.m., or Wednesday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. To attend, click here for all the information you need. No registration is required for the workshops. Just click on the Zoom link on the day of the workshop to join. For information and instructions for drawing your own maps, email [email protected].
LES MISERABLES OPENING WEEKEND: Les Miserable opens Friday, Jan. 28 and runs weekends through Feb. 13 at Palm Canyon Theatre, 538 North Palm Canyon Dr. (at the corner of Alejo Road). Showtimes are 7 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Admission ranges from $15 to $32. For tickets or other information, call the PCT Box Office at 760-323-5123 or order online at PalmCanyonTheatre.org. Box Office hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
HBCU TOURS: The African American Parent Advisory Council (AAPAC) of the Palm Springs Unified School District recently announced two dozen students will be able to attend a tour of Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in April completely free of charge. The deadline for application to participate in the tour is Jan. 31. Selected students will fly with approved chaperones to Washington DC and visit several HBCU’s and landmarks in the surrounding area. An application form is available here, and a permission slip for the tour is available here.
NEXT ART EXHIBIT: The Desert Art Center in Palm Springs opens one of the largest shows of the season on Friday, Feb. 4, with all new works from gallery artists plus an art pop-up in the Studio Gallery featuring the work of Janis Buller and Cathy Parker. Every art lover is welcome to join on the 4th from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. for refreshments and the largest selection of local fine art in the Coachella Valley. DAC is located at 550 North Palm Canyon Dr. in Uptown Palm Springs. Community support feeds the organization’s outreach to schools with art classes and scholarships.
BIKE EVENT: Registration for the annual Tour de Palm Springs, planned for Feb. 12, remains open. The event features walking and cycling routes, some as long as 100 miles, kicking off between 6:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. All of the routes start and finish on South Palm Canyon Drive near Tahquitz Canyon Way. More information about the event, which draws up to 10,000 cyclists annually, can be found here.