Our dogs work as a team with professionals and ask kids to

Try Hard. Be Brave.​

our leadership team

Our program


Raising Hope Dogs acquires and trains dogs to work with professional therapists primarily helping children from low-income families who have autism, behavioral challenges, down syndrome and cerebral palsy to reach their physical, social, emotional and behavioral goals. When used in conjunction with standard therapies, the use of specially-trained working dogs as part of the therapy team accelerates the therapy’s progress, advancing the health and well-being of the clients dramatically. 

Raising Hope Dogs’ caseload is largely comprised of families who are receiving state aid for therapy costs and never would be able to afford the kind of innovative treatment provided through the organization, if not for its charitable mission to reach this vulnerable population. Consequently, fundraising is required to assure the viability and ongoing operations of Raising Hope Dogs.

Because Raising Hope dogs work as part of approved Autism Spectrum Disorder therapies, their work, skills and very demeanor are carefully cultivated for the autistic learner. The behavior and energy of a Raising Hope dog is vitally important. Because autistic children, most especially, “vibe off” the dog, the therapy dog’s temperament is crucial to success. A blend of characteristics is needed: they must be calm but have the ability to switch into a play or drive mode and back again, as required by the therapy underway at any given moment.

​Raising Hope Dogs chooses puppies for training after careful evaluation of temperament, sociability, work ethic and play drive. The young dogs are raised by a professional dog trainer with a successful career in training service and therapy dogs for other organizations including Paws with a Cause. Chosen breeds vary but include Border Collies, Labradors, and mixed breeds. Eventually, Raising Hope Dogs will work to develop its own breeding program in order to have full knowledge of and experience with the dogs’ genetics and lifetime temperaments. 

​Raising Hope dogs are watched carefully for signs of fatigue or the need to retire or career change. Dogs that become slow or are unable to keep up with the travel of a full day of therapy visits can often be used in the training of new dogs or are often sent to be “pet dogs” with the therapist it has been paired with. If a Raising Hope dog needs to be removed from a home, for whatever reason, or is deemed not appropriate for one-on-one therapy work, Raising Hope Dogs assumes responsibility for finding the dog a healthy new home, or can use it in the HopeDog Challenges, and has developed a waiting list of eager adopting families for exactly that purpose. 

Celeste Richardson


The courage and determination of the kids gives Celeste the inspiration to help raise calm, mindful puppies for Raising Hope.

Beverly B. Damore – Chair and Executive Director

Wendi L. Faircloth – Director and Secretary/Treasurer

Celeste Richardson – Director

William Hicks III – Corporate counsel

Our dogs change kids' lives.


Raise. Train. Change.

HopeDog challenge

A special program of Raising Hope Dogs, where kids and sport dogs play as teams.

Karen Rice

Founder & Kid Coordinator

A professional occupational therapist, her background in creating solutions to therapy challenges has uniquely prepared Karen to help connect kids and teens with our programming.

Wendi Faircloth

Founder & Training Director

An education major and professional dog trainer, Wendi's love of solving strategic puzzles shows in her work with the courageous kids and fun-loving dogs.

Beverly Damore

Executive Director

Inspired by the power of our kids' stories, Beverly uses her nonprofit management experience to help lead Raising Hope Dogs to new connections and funds.

Raising Hope Dogs