By Charlie Petrizzo
Special to Inside The Pew
Editor’s note: Project2Heal breeds and trains service dogs and companions and donate them to service organizations around the U.S., free of charge. The organization has sent dogs to help those in need all over the country, from children with autism to wounded warriors. According to Petrizzo, founder of the organization, the name Project2Heal reflects the fact that the greatest project ever undertaken to heal was when God sent his only son to save the world from sin. “Each of us has a project to heal and it’s only when we find the talent that God blessed us with that we will find true happiness,” Petrizzo said.
Why did you create your business?
“I faced two life-threatening injuries before turning 20. When I finished college, I married Sandy, the love of my life, and my injuries continued to bother me, both physically and emotionally. I questioned my faith and my career as a Fortune 500 executive, and I slipped into depression. I took a leave of absence and through a period of healing, reflection and time spent with a special puppy, I started to become myself again, and I returned to the Catholic faith. I sought spiritual wealth above all and God showed me the path of service and healing from an unlikely source: puppies.”
What is the one scripture (or two) that you draw strength from?
“Two scriptures have played an important role in making me who I am today. First, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Phil 4:13) and second, ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.’ (Rev 3:15) There have been many times when I’ve looked at my injuries and asked myself, ‘Why me?’ I struggled to find faith in God and myself. Founding Project2Heal has helped me rediscover God and grow in the confidence and strength of his love. I consider myself a blessed man, and the scriptures have helped outline my path as I continue to get to know God my Father.
What the best advice you can share with an entrepreneur?
“Use the gifts God has given you to help others. I have a gift for working with animals and using them to help people heal. That’s my Project2Heal, but we each have a Project2Heal that we can harness and share with the world. Take advantage of your talents and use them to serve God and your community. If you make mistakes along the way or lose faith in yourself, just remember that God is always looking out for you, that he loves you, desires good for you and wants to use each of us to tell others about His love.”
Have an interesting tidbit about your business or yourself that you would like to add?
“One of our amazing success stories involves a marine from Indianapolis named Nick Bennett. While deployed in Iraq, Nick’s unit was unfortunately struck by a rocket and he was seriously injured. Twenty-six surgeries later, Nick’s hands and legs are repaired, but the actions that used to be stress-free, such as tying his son’s shoes or attending a baseball game with his family, incited much fear and anxiety due to Nick’s PTSD. We bred a dog named Festus to help Nick, and Festus received additional training from the Indiana Canine Assistance Network (ICAN). With the help of Festus, Nick is now able to be the father that he always wanted to be.”
Learn more about Project2Heal online: http://www.project2heal.org/. Nominate for nonprofit spotlights via email at firstname.lastname@example.org