Sara Grech: Discovering her “North Star” with the Service Dogs Malta Foundation
Sara is known for being a huge dog lover. She has 3 dogs of her own and has always made the office a dog-friendly environment to work and relax in. In 2013, she decided to transform her passion into purpose and helped set up The Service Dogs Malta Foundation, an NGO that matches trained guide dogs with blind, partially sighted and disabled people.
First and foremost a businesswoman, Sara Grech has been leading the way in Malta’s Real Estate market, however her passion for helping people led her to look deeper and discover her North Star.
“Your North Star can come from anywhere. What are you passionate about changing in the world? What gives you purpose? The idea for the foundation came to me when I realised how many people service dogs can help. It’s about providing emotional support and a sense of independence, but also therapy, companionship, and a way to socially interact with others”, said Sara. “I first became involved in the foundation when I showed a property to a blind person”, she continued, “I was curious so I did some research, found out more information about how I could help and got stuck in.”
As things stand today, 10 dogs are currently in service, 9 in training and 48 lives have been transformed since the foundation began. But there are around 1,800 visually-impaired people living in Malta and the NGO’s big mission is to ensure that no person who could potentially benefit from a service dog is left without one.
“I love what I do. And I do what I love. That’s what provides meaning in my life.”
Sara firmly believes that, as a business leader, she has a responsibility to use her connections and influence for the greater good, balancing her time between both.
“Whilst there are obvious differences in the day-to-day runnings of a company and a charity, it would be impossible to separate the two. They are both goal-driven and form my purpose and drive. I am the same person in both aspects and bring the strength of one into the other. It helps that I love what I do. And I do what I love. That’s what provides meaning in my life”.
The plans for developing the foundation over the next few years are specific to the needs of autistic and/or visually impaired people. At the moment, the focus is on helping those on the autistic spectrum, primarily children, who need an alert to check their blood sugar levels in cases of hyper- or hypoglycemia. It’s a lengthy process of acquiring, training, supplying and supporting guide dogs, costing the foundation anything between €12,000 - €15,000.
The Service Dogs Malta Foundation relies on donations and volunteers to support their work, and individuals who are interested in supporting their mission may be able to get involved through donating, volunteering, or spreading awareness about the important role that guide dogs play in the lives of people with visual impairments.
Follow the foundation on Facebook.
The Foundation is a member of EGDF (European Guide Dogs Federation), which is dedicated to maintaining high standards in the training of guide dogs and establishing cooperation between guide dog schools in the EU. The foundation signs a contract with guide dog owners and carries out inspections to ensure that all animals are being treated well.