Goodwill, Donte's Den partner on educational dog safety course

Monthly Good Neighbor workshop to offer information and training on taking care of dogs for children ages 6-11

Published Thursday, February 9, 2017

Marsha Panuce of Donte's Den & Veronica Brandon Miller of Goodwill ManasotaSARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – In a new venture, Goodwill Manasota and Donte’s Den Foundation are teaming up to help families with young children more fully appreciate and benefit from the joys of pet ownership. A workshop, “Donte’s Orientation Guide” (DOG), will be offered once a month at Goodwill community rooms throughout the community for children ages 6-11 so that they can learn how to behave safely and interact confidently around dogs, and learn responsible pet ownership skills. DOG is being offered under the auspices of the Goodwill Good Neighbor program.

Donte’s Den is a local organization that provides a home-like setting and quality care for canine companions who are separated from their owners due to illness, injury, abandonment, long-term travel or military deployment. Its educational dog safety course, DOG, includes an interactive video, activity/coloring books, and a chance to test what participants learn with a loveable pup from Donte’s Den.

“This partnership with Goodwill is truly unique – it offers families that may not have sufficient resources on hand to take part in expensive training programs to receive information that will greatly enhance the experience of welcoming a dog into the family,” said Donte’s Den founder Marsha Panuce.

The organizations have worked together previously. Recently, a local veteran – who was receiving assistance through Goodwill Manasota’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program – fell upon hard times and was on the verge of becoming homeless. He was reluctant to go to the Salvation Army because he didn’t want to give up his beloved dog. Goodwill’s Veterans Services Program coordinator, Mike Marzella, reached out to Donte’s Den and helped to secure lodging for the dog there temporarily, through the organization’s Semper Paw program, so that the veteran could focus on getting back on his feet.

Goodwill’s Good Neighbor program endeavors to build stronger, safer and more vibrant communities through engagement and education. The program was launched over 20 years ago, in order to provide community meeting places, free of charge. Good Neighbor offerings, which are designed to meet the specific needs of each community and the residents who live there, cover a variety of topics and interests including small business classes, language and literacy courses, arts and crafts, financial literacy, and more.

“We are so grateful to our partners, including Donte’s Den, who offer expert instruction for community members through our Good Neighbor program,” said Goodwill Manasota vice president Veronica Brandon Miller. “We are pleased to provide comfortable spaces and offer free educational, cultural and social activities designed to meet the needs of our local residents. We hope that this program will help numerous area families to better appreciate the joys of owning a dog, and enable children to become confident, responsible and loving caretakers.”

The classes, which are free and open to the public, take place on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. – noon; upcoming dates are February 11 at the Goodwill Mecca location (5150 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota), March 18 at the Honore location (1704 N. Honore Ave., Sarasota), and April 8 at the Venice location (676 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice). Seating is limited and registration is required; to sign up, go to


PHOTO ID: Donte’s Den founder Marsha Panuce (left) and Goodwill Manasota vice president Veronica Brandon Miller with Miller’s beloved dogs, Duchess Alexandra and Duke Wellington, during the recent Donte’s Den Top Dog event at the Francis