Talia, from White Plains, New York was looking for a unique project that would combine her love of animals, with helping others and that would also connect her with an organization located in Israel. She found the perfect match with the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind. She was amazed to find that this was the only place in the entire Middle East that breeds, raises and trains guide dogs for the visually impaired. She was fortunate enough to travel to Israel prior to her Bat Mitzvah, and when she visited the center she took a blind-fold walk with one of the guide dogs through an obstacle course. She was hooked! She couldn’t believe how effortlessly she was able to navigate a very difficult course.
Talia, along with her mother then asked for permission to interview twelve guide dog users. After learning about the various stories, she photographed each of her subjects with their four-legged best friend and created a calendar completely on her own. Talia sold the calendar at mitzvah fairs and through the mail, raising over $3,000! The center was so impressed with the quality of her work, they even purchased a quantity of them to send to large donors.
This was a very meaningful project for Talia, because during the interviews, she came to understand the importance of a guide dog and how these amazing animals allow visually impaired Israelis to resume an independent and productive life. In addition to producing the calendars, Talia and her family hosted events in their home to raise awareness about this amazing organization.
Michael J. Leventhal
Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind