Karen Sandvick Volunteer of the Year Award

PALS is extremely blessed to have a volunteer who gives so much of herself to make sure that PALS is organized, successful & known throughout the community. Karen Sandvick visits various care homes to brighten the day for many with her four-legged best friend, Bandit. Together they visit schools & libraries to motivate children to not only read but to be successful & enjoy reading. A few of the hats she wears for PALS are: communication specialist, computer techie, inventory controller, purchaser, photographer, videographer, calendar organizer, fundraiser coordinator with Cheryl Collins, administrative assistant, certificate maker, our newest Board Secretary & most of all a great friend!

It is both my honor & pleasure to present the very first Karen Sandvick Volunteer of the Year Award to Karen Sandvick.

The plaque reads:

In appreciation and recognition of the hard work, time and dedication you give to PALS. You are paws-itively paw-some!



Paws As Loving Support Puppy Raiser Award


PALS Puppy Raiser award is being presented to a puppy raiser extraordinaire! Michelle Chastain has taken almost every PALS pup-in-training into her home, shared her son, Tobias, with them & has taken them to work at The Swain Center to experience being around & working with children with special needs. I cannot thank you enough for providing so many fun & educational experiences to our pups. Thank you so very much for opening your heart, home & work place to our wonderful pups.

 100.1 KZST’s Home Town Hero submission

Our family’s hero is Michelle Chastain. Michelle is a Speech-Language Pathologist at The Swain Center and has been working with our son, Aidan for 3 years. Aidan has Autism and as anyone can imagine, it is a terrifying diagnosis. When Aidan first starting seeing Michelle, he had a small vocabulary and wasn’t able to put two words together. Very quickly, with her guidance and tough love, we got swift results. I cannot begin to explain how powerful and heartwarming it is to finally hear him say I love you to us and to finally be able to communicate with our son. Michelle has also been a great guide to us as parents. New to this scary and unfamiliar world, we we’re lost. She has become much more than Aidan’s speech therapist, but a friend of our family and a great resource for our community.

Michelle, along with other speech therapists at The Swain Center also started a badly needed social skills group for kids on the Autism Spectrum. These kids need this behavior training to make friends and participate on all levels in society. Michelle also walks and raises money for Autism Speaks and collects cans and bottles to earn money for a great program called Paws As Loving Support (PALS), an organization that raises and trains Autism service dogs to work with special needs kids.  I don’t know what KZST thinks, but to us and other families like us, Michelle is our hero!       From Elise Krawchuk