The First Responders Foundation is honored to be inducting Tim and Mary McAlpine into the Ancient Order of the National Society of St. Florian and St. Michael at the 6th Annual 9/11 Luncheon of Honor on September 9, 2022.
Tim and Mary are two of the founders of JAVELAN which is now a successful program of the First Responders Foundation. JAVELAN provides funding for the training of service dogs, often assists recipients in obtaining service dogs (as much as possible rescue dogs), and provides service dog trainers. Named after a special service dog “Jack”, with the full acronym: Jack, Assisting Veterans Enjoying Life Again.
A Partnership For Growth
The McAlpine’s partnership with The First Responders Foundation began in 2019 when Tim met Al Batschelet, First Responders Foundation CEO. JAVELAN was a highly successful, albeit small non-profit organization funding the training for military veterans to obtain service dogs. A very unique organization of volunteers, using the Community Model for training service dogs. The Community Model is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community engagement with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience. JAVELAN uses this model by having the recipient of the service dog assist in all aspects of the training. Many times service dogs are trained in multiple areas in anticipation of what may be needed. This hands-on approach ensures that the service dog is trained specifically for the needs of the recipient. The training is done by a certified trainer who is teaching the recipient along with the service dog. The dog lives with the recipient while being trained. The respect and love bonds develop quickly with this approach as well.
In 2019 JAVELAN reached its potential as a total volunteer organization and needed professional involvement to continue the rapid growth. With over 30% of first responders former or current military veterans, the First Responders Foundation was the perfect fit to provide professional oversight and support to assure the continued growth of JAVELAN.
Considering Military Members as Part of Their Family
Tim and Mary have considerable experience working with organizations providing support services. These high school sweethearts have been married for 52 years. Tim and Mary worked with the military for over 33 years. Tim is retired from the Army-Air Force Exchange Service serving soldiers and airmen as an executive manager in strategic planning, marketing, purchasing, and field operations. With Mary by his side, they traveled from Army posts to Air Force bases in Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, Washington State, and Nebraska and became part of the military community. They consider military members part of their family. Their interaction with the military and their dedication to serving those who face challenges in leading a successful and productive life resulted in a strong commitment to community service. The McAlpine’s honor and respect the sacrifices many have made to allow us to live a life of our choosing.
Tim and Mary have two children, Christine and Randy. It was their daughter Christine who was born with disabilities that led them to the understanding of how much a service dog could change the lives of many who needed support for daily living
The McAlpine’s Personal Experience with Service Dogs
Once Christine had her service dog, suddenly, people were comfortable with approaching the McAlpine family in public as the dog presented a familiar, common ground for conversation. The dog offered an avenue for acceptance with the focus shifting from fear and suspicion to love and caring.
As the McAlpine’s found the healing power of a service dog in the life of a person with a disability, long before the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, they knew there would be a mission and purpose to share this experience with others. After attending the passage of ADA in 1990, they recognized service dogs also had the potential to return independence and meaningful life to those who experienced trauma and disabling injuries. It has become clear, and research supports, that the calming effect of this shift of focus, is the same for veterans and first responders as the service dog or “battle buddy” can allow them to enjoy life again.
Continuing Community Involvement Into Retirement
With the support of their children, Tim and Mary continue their community involvement in retirement. Randy, his wife Lauren, and their children Henry, Charlotte, and George live in Omaha. Randy is a Certified Financial Planner and owns his own company North Channel Capital. Christine now lives in supported community services, also in Omaha.
Tim and Mary have served as volunteers, officers, and board members with the ARC of Nebraska, United Cerebral Palsy of NE, The Parent Training and Information Center (PTI Nebraska), The Meyer Foundation for Disabilities, Munroe-Meyer Guild, NHS Hospital Auxiliary, Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Citizens With Disabilities, The American Legion and other charitable foundations.
Founding of JAVELAN
Tim and Mary, along with the passionate support of Charlotte and Bob Dean, founded JAVELAN in 2017. Charlotte’s service dog is the JAVELAN namesake “Jack”. Charlotte tells everyone that Jack gave her her life back. She teases that if she had to choose between Bob and Jack it would be a hard choice but she would choose Jack. This sentiment shows the impact and importance of a service dog. The McAlpine’s and the Dean’s wanted veterans to have the healing power of service dogs.
JAVELAN began with a vision to serve our nation’s heroes who have served our country, protected our freedom, and paid a heavy price for their service. It began in part due to the stunning realization that our service members were committing suicide at the rate of 22 per day. It was a clear indication immediate help was needed and there was no time to wait for an institutional solution.
JAVELAN began as a personal effort to provide funding for service dog training with the goal of graduating a few service dog teams each year. The 100th JAVELAN Team graduated this year! The McAlpine’s have been genuinely moved by the generosity of our community in support of service dogs for veterans and first responders.
For more information about the JAVELAN Program click here.
For more information about the 6th Annual 9/11 Luncheon of Honor click here.
For more information about the Ancient Order of the National Society of St. Florian and St. Michael click here.