In January 2008, Josie Gavieres was one of our first Helpful Honda Award recipients. In addition to our recent Teacher Appreciation celebrations, the Helpful Honda Awards is another way the SoCal Honda Dealers have supported those in Southern California who dedicate their lives to being helpful.

Josie is the founder of Beach Animals Reading with Kids (BARK) an all-volunteer program encouraging children to increase their reading skills by reading aloud to certified therapy dogs. Plus, she is a tireless volunteer for Noah’s Wish, an organization that rescues and shelters animals displaced during disasters. With all of this activity, Josie was running her car into the ground with weekly mileage ranging from 100 to 1,000 miles. She was worried that every rescue mission was going to be the car’s last.

Here is where the Helpful Guys in Blue come in.

As a Helpful Honda Award winner, Josie received a new Honda Element to help her continue her amazing efforts. That was in 2008. Fast forward to 2013, Josie has grown BARK from 3 dogs in 5 schools to over 170 teams in over 100 schools!

Many of these teams are now able to visit nursing homes, senior centers, disabled adult facilities and the VA hospital. In addition, BARK was just named the official therapy dog program of the Community Hospital of Long Beach. When asked how the Element has helped Josie help others, she explained:

“My Honda Element has allowed me to say ‘Yes’!” 

“Yes, I can transport five rescued dogs and three bunnies to Northern California.  Yes, I can take two people, a Greyhound, Golden Retriever, and a Labrador Retriever to welcome home a Wounded Warrior or to read with children. Yes, I can fit crates, blankets, rescue supplies, to help rescue and shelter animals during a fire or hurricane”

“Most importantly, winning the Element allowed me to use the money that would have gone to a car payment to grow BARK until we were enough of an entity to warrant outside funding.” – Josie Gavieres

The SoCal Honda Dealers are excited to see how, even years later, these Helpful Honda Awards have made a difference in the community. Learn more about Josie’s story and other Helpful Honda Award winners on our YouTube page and stay tuned for more stories of how SoCal Honda is helping the helpful.