zero to ten with Sara Ondrako

Last year in March, hygge’s owner Garrett Tichy sat down with a number of local business owners and nonprofit leaders to ask how they were coping as the state shifted into a shutdown.

Now, well over a year later, Garrett’s sitting down with these folks again to get an update on how things are going. This week, we’re chatting with Sara Ondrako, the founder and CEO of the American Pit Bull Foundation, which operates out of hygge hill street.

At the beginning of 2020, Sara and her team were in an exciting position as they were getting ready to launch their first ever capital campaign, which is a major fundraising endeavor for nonprofits. The goal was to raise enough money to create a home base where the American Pit Bull Foundation could operate safely from and do their dog trainings.

Just as they were getting ready to roll everything out for the campaign, they had to put the brakes on. “That was the moment I thought, ‘Okay, this is going to hurt,'” Sara says in the Zero to Ten episode.

That was an ominous start to the difficult year the foundation experienced. They completely shut down their dog training, which trains pit bulls to be placed with veterans as service dogs, because it wasn’t something they could effectively do virtually or while masks on because dogs rely heavily on facial cues.

You can tell Sara is a practical, yet overwhelmingly positive person despite it all. Even though it’s been a difficult time for her nonprofit – they’re 3-5 years out from even discussing a capital campaign again and corporate funding priorities have shifted away from animal welfare and toward other important issues – she manages to look on the bright side.

For example, though things were tough at first, turning to virtual options for things like the foundation’s school programming, which teaches children to be responsible pet parents, has allowed them greater reach. Additionally, they were able to help more folks through their Helping Hands fund, which gives financial assistance to dog owners facing money difficulties.

The way Sara looks at it, there’s really nothing she can do but keep moving forward in whatever ways she can.

“Whether we’re in the midst of a pandemic or your donors fall by 50 percent or you don’t have a physical space to occupy or you have to wash out all your service dogs, you’re always going to face problems,” she says in the podcast episode. “You’ve got to get used to that. For me, even though it’s a challenge, it’s just another problem, and I’m just going to find another solution, and we’re going to keep going.”

You can listen to our full conversation above or by finding Zero to Ten wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts.

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