Service Paws of Central PA
Dedicated. Determined. Loved.
About Us | Service Paws Of Central PA
SPCP is a non-profit, non-residential, community-based organization, founded in 2011 by Ms. Leslie Kelly. All members of the SPCP Advisory Board are volunteers. SPCP was established with the goal of helping individuals financially obtain a service dog and/or helping defray extraordinary veterinary costs for those currently using a service dog.
Service dogs are used for many reasons and are life-changing for those that are able to benefit from these extraordinary animals. Their services include but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.
What Can We Do?
Our goals are to help with the purchase of Service dogs and extraordinary veterinary bills associated with caring and maintaining these wonderful animals. We are able to do this through fundraising events, monetary donations from the public and redemption of aluminum can tabs.
Meet Our Team...
Joe Fagnani - Chairperson
I’m from the New York City area and spent most of my life working as a Systems Analyst for several major corporations. When the last company for whom I worked was taken over by Star Wood Hotels, I was given an early retirement. This gave me the opportunity to move to Blair County.
I’ve been advocating for blindness-related issues for fifty years. In 1968, I was part of a group that established a dog guide user’s organization and drafted the first New York State dog guide legislation. Through my volunteer work with other groups and organizations, I met Leslie Kelly and became a charter member of Service Paws.
Charles (Chuck) Schneider - Vice-Chairperson
Brooklyn, N.Y. born and bred, and having lived in Florida for over 30 years, wife, an Altoona native, and I came back to Altoona. Enjoy the mountains and the 'small-town atmosphere'. I believe the work we do to be extremely important in affecting the lives of the people we help.
Kimberly Thompson - Treasurer
I am an Altoona native and have been married to Chad Thompson since 2000. We have one son, Lance. He just graduated from AAHS, class of 2020. I graduated from Bradford Business School in Pittsburgh with a degree in Hotel Management. Through a series of lucky breaks, I changed careers and have been in banking for 25 years. I started with Mid-State Bank which transitioned to M & T Bank. Then I furthered my career at First Commonwealth Bank as a member of their team for 10 years. I was then recruited by CNB Bank where I have been for 3 years. I am an avid lover of animals and Service PAWS was the right fit for me. It's wonderful to be able to see the amazing things that have happened for clients of this fantastic organization.
Miranda Kiser - Secretary
Miranda is from Johnstown, PA, where in 2019 she earned an associate degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences through Pennsylvania Highlands Community College. She will graduate from Penn State in the spring of 2022 with a bachelor's degree in Marketing and Management and a minor in Entrepreneurship. Miranda aspires to be a better version of herself each day. As she lives life to the fullest, she not only grows as an individual, but also focuses on motivating others to do the same. As a board member for Service Paws of Central PA, Miranda adapts that mindset in order to further accomplish the organization’s mission and purpose.
I grew up in central PA and became involved with people with special needs from an early age. I began working for OVR, Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services in 1990 and loved teaching blindness skills to people of all ages. I retired from my job in 2014, and soon became involved in several non-profit organizations. I knew Leslie Kelly from meetings, etc., when I was employed, and when I retired, I joined the Board of Service Paws.
Dr. Brad Kissell
Growing up in Altoona, Dr. Kissell graduated from the Altoona Area High School in 2002. He attended Juniata College where he majored in Biology and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2006. He went on to obtain his doctorate of veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010.
I am thrilled to be asked to be on the board of such a great cause that helps people and animals. Always having a special bond with animals is one of the reasons I wanted to be part of this organization. I grew up training and caring for horses for competitions in Hunter/Jumper shows all over the east coast which is a partnership like no other. I learned about the special bond and trust between animals and their handlers as well as the love and companionship that is developed. In college, I was the captain of the PSU Equestrian team.
Since having children, I moved to smaller animals and currently have 3 dogs and a cat. Although this organization is mainly about support animals, I act as a support human to my hearing-impaired Dalmatians who require special care from myself and from my hearing dogs.
A graduate of Penn State in Speech Communications and Business as well as studying for an MBA at Saint Francis University.
While raising my children I spend 20 years working as a volunteer in many nonprofit organizations such as my children’s various schools, churches, community events, and art foundations, doing fundraising, event planning, and public speaking.
Heather currently resides in Altoona Pa with her youngest of four children 17-year-old Grazia who is a senior honor student and avid dancer, She also has a recently married daughter Polly 26, who is an Airman in the Air Force, a son Frank 24 on active duty in the Navy and another son Nick, 21 who works and resides in Reading PA. She is employed by Baywood Hotels As a General Manager of the Holiday Inn Express and Suites Altoona.
I enjoy spending time with my children and animals doing outdoor activities and traveling.
My name is Branden Hill, and I am a Marine veteran who was deployed to
Afghanistan from 2008-2009. While I was over in Afghanistan I got injured
and was sent to Germany hospital. My physical injuries were minor but my
mental injuries including PTSD and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) are still in
full affect. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, hunting, fishing
and pretty much everything outside. I also enjoy riding my motorcycle and
coaching football for youth football team. I have a service dog that has
helped me get through the rough times and is always by my side. Without my
service dog Zeke I have no idea where I would be today.
Chelsea Garcia Ortega
I am an Altoona native, graduating from AAHS and Juniata College. I have
worked for a local law firm for the last 11 years. I have served with
various organizations to benefit military, including Wills for Heroes, VTH,
and the Military Outreach Chair for the CPPA. I live with my spouse, 2 dogs,
and 5 cats. I have many friends and family who have served, and I look
forward to returning the favor.
I’ve worked in customer service positions for over 40 years. First was for more than 14 years with the credit department at Sears Roebuck. After the closure of that department due to consolidation of credit offices, I returned to school - attending the Computer Learning Network. Upon graduation, I continued with the school, and for the next 8 or so years, I taught secretarial classes to adult students and instructed computer software workshops for various businesses.
When corporate training slowed at the school, I hired on for a few years at the Veeder Root Company as a Fuel Management Systems Customer Service Representative while waiting for a fitting position to come available with the Commonwealth.
In 2004, I acquired my last career position for the next 18 years with the Commonwealth, as a Judge’s Secretary for the Altoona Workers’ Compensation Office of Adjudication until my retirement.
I became acquainted with Joe and Celia Fagnani after initially meeting Joe when he attended some training while I worked at CLN. During the time since while reading for Joe, I’ve become acquainted also with SPCP. I’ve attended a few events and once volunteered in recent years.
Now being retired, I look forward to volunteering more of my time to this honorable and worthwhile organization that helps bring together qualifying individuals with trained service dogs.