I'm glad to report that our TT lunch was a big success! Here is how the day went!
My mom and I were up early and headed out to CCI by 7:30 am. We picked up a fellow volunteer and continued along our 2 hour trip out to Long Island. We arrived at CCI around 10:15 after driving through the lovely rain that we have been having. We unloaded the car and started to get the food ready!
It was Cinco de Mayo yesterday so we had a HUGE Mexican spread for the graduates and staff. My mother is the chef behind each meal and everyone loves the food. As I was washing the margherita glasses (yes we had those too!) one of the mothers who's son was receiving a SC came up to me and asked if I was really from New Jersey. She was so amazed that we had made the trip out there just to serve them lunch that day. She then said to me, "I can't believe that you came all the way from New Jersey. Can I give you a hug?" Of course I told her yes! Little things like this are the reasons I do the things I do and keep on raising puppies for this amazing organization. Being able to touch so many lives in such a positive way is a great feeling.
Nuri was hanging out in the kitchen with us as we prepared all the food and she had a great time playing with some of the kids. So as to not disturb the graduates while they are eating I always put my pup in training in the kennels for the lunch and clean up. This way there are no distractions! Nuri was having fun playing with the kids until she was put away!
We had a big feast that was made up of: chili, makings for taco salad, those fun stand-up taco shells, cheese quesadillas, a layered enchilada dish, chicken marinated in italian dressing, nacho chips with salsa and home-made guacamole for dipping. We had a dulce de leche chocolate torte and a tortilla layered "cake" with vanilla pudding and whipped cream for dessert. We also served frozen margharitas, sangria, and two different types of beer, along with sodas and water to drink. The food was gone in minutes! It seemed that everyone had a lot to eat and kept going back for seconds!
It's such a great thing when volunteers can make a home-cooked kind of meal for the graduates. While up at CCI for TT it's hard to get those good meals. Many volunteers like to show up and cook for the graduates which is great.
I always wait until the teams head back for more training before I see if there is any food left for me to eat! I spend the time the graduates are eating talking and getting to know as many of them as possible. It's great to hear their stories about how they learn about CCI and how they are doing in TT. Since I was there so early in the TT session many of them haven't really experienced the hard parts yet. I know that once they are paired up with their dogs, the really hard work begins and their lives start to change to something so much better.
It was great to watch a little bit of the training since I knew of a few dogs that were rotating through TT this time. It was also great to see New Jersey represented in TT with a graduate that will be paired up with his dog next Saturday. The graduate is from a family that lives about 5 minutes away from me and are also fellow PRs. Their pup Wexler, brother to my little Wilara, is rotating through TT and it's great to see them! I know they are hoping that Wexler gets paired up with their son, but I don't think that will happen. It didn't seem to be an option while talking to some of the trainers. Oh well! It was a neat idea though!
I wish all the potential graduates good luck over the next week and a half. This is a very exciting and rigorous time and you will come out so much happier when it's all done. I will see everyone next Saturday at graduation!!