Once a teacher, always a teacher. And for North Riverside resident Carmela Albachiara, now a retired longtime and beloved kindergarten teacher at Komarek School, she is hoping to educate people in another area.

Albachiara has taken on the project of educating people about a program called Dogs for the Deaf Inc. She is one of the organization’s volunteer ambassadors.

She brought her message to the Riverside Township Lions Club at a recent meeting, where she presented a program introducing the organization and how she became affiliated with them.

Carmela and her husband, Nick, are the parents of a deaf child, Adrienne, now an adult, and herself the mother of a deaf son, John. When Adrienne was a child, Carmela felt there should be something to help make life a little easier for her daughter. She happened upon an ad for Dogs for the Deaf in a copy of National Geographic magazine.

It was not too long after that when Adrienne was partnered with Tracy, a cocker spaniel-mix who became not just a friend, but also a life saver when she alerted Adrienne and her family of an alarm going off in the house.

Albachiara says the organization, based in Oregon and founded in 1977, relies on donations and receives no federal funding. Since their beginning Dogs for the Deaf has saved approximately 3,000 dogs who otherwise might have been euthanized.

The rescued dogs are trained to help with different disabilities, challenges and needs. The placement dogs, with the help of a professional trainer, then begin to work with their new owners in their new homes.

Carmela wants people to know the only cost is a $25 application fee, even though it costs around $5,000 to completely ready a dog for placement.

 She’d also like to spread the word through events like the one with the Lions Club. Carmela said she would like to present her program, which includes a picture presentation, to any group that is interested. You may contact her at 447-9335. Dogs for the Deaf Inc. may be contacted at www.dogsforthedeaf.org.

Carmela Albachiara is a perfect example of why I say people don’t retire they “transition” – and this former teacher has transitioned to teach us all something that is good for us to know.