Posted by Rosie Tan Segil on May 07, 2021
Marblehead Rotary Service Dog Project is thrilled to announce its latest success in uniting nine-year-old Gabriel Bachour with his specially trained furry friend, who will help him navigate his world. Gabriel is autistic and has special needs that impose extra challenges on his everyday routines. His mom, Angelica Bachour, learned that he could thrive with a service dog. After surmounting many hurdles, heightened by a pandemic year, and with the combined efforts of Marblehead Rotary Club and Chelsea Rotary Club, Gabriel and Kacey are ready to take on their world - or, at least, the fourth grade. 
The World Class Service Dogs organization, NEADS, matched Gabriel with Kacey 8 months ago. And just two weeks ago, the two finally completed their training and held an official graduation from the program. Arthur Schwartz, Marblehead Club president, recognizes the financial challenges of bringing a well-trained service pet into a family. “But its enormous benefits to people with disabilities to improve their day-to-day function and secure their safety and well-being is well documented. So for us, it is a compelling decision.”
The Marblehead Rotary Service Dog Project originated in 2019 and was directly inspired by Rotary District’s assistance to a veteran and U.S. Marine Corps, Micaila Britto. Studies have shown that service animals can dramatically improve the lives of individuals living with the debilitating effects of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Soon after that success, Rotarians, Rosie Segil, David Deutsch, Linda Sullivan, and Gail Novack looked into extending the project to benefit others. And though two Marblehead applicants didn’t qualify for the program, they put their efforts to help Gabriel of Chelsea, who did qualify. 
The cooperation of the Marblehead and Chelsea Rotary clubs reflects a natural alliance. Maureen Foley, Chelsea Rotary's Past President and Board member, said that this success, “is a cause to celebrate, and a way to energize and rally members to a new and collaborative project that extends beyond our own community.”
The beneficiary of this effort, Gabriel, has expressed so much gratitude. He said, “My life is different because I’m calmer with Kacey by my side, she was the love added to my heart, never-ending love.” He also said, “I would like to thank my parents, especially my mom who always helps me with everything, everyone from NEADS, the Chelsea and the Marblehead Rotary Club, and everyone else who donated and supported us.”