Lois Pope, one of America’s leading philanthropists, is recognized as the country’s foremost advocates for veterans and especially disabled veterans, earning the moniker “The Pope of Disabled Veterans.” She created and spearheaded the legislation, building, and endowment of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, which was dedicated on October 5, 2014 in Washington DC as the nation’s first permanent public tribute to the four million living disabled American veterans and all those who have died
Realizing that not everyone can travel to Washington DC to experience the power of the Memorial in person, Mrs. Pope worked with members of Congress to pass a resolution in 2016 declaring October 5 every year as a “National Day of Honor” for America’s disabled veterans. Moreover, she conceived, funded, and executive produced two widely-acclaimed PBS films — “Debt of Honor” and “VA: The Human Cost of War,” both directed by six-time Emmy Award winner Ric Burns. The first illuminates the plight and treatment of disabled veterans throughout American history, while the second sheds light on the controversial history and current day problems plaguing the Veterans Administration.
Combining her unparalleled commitment to disabled veterans with her ardent support of animal welfare and well-being, Mrs. Pope helped advocate for language in the National Defense Reauthorization Act that included for the first-time provisions to bring home to U.S. soil military dogs who served alongside American soldiers on the front lines of combat. These dogs can be reunited with their human soldiers as service and therapy dogs.
Dogs that have served in the five branches of the military now have a permanent physical tribute to their courage, thanks to Mrs. Pope’s endowment of the American Military Hero Dog Monument. Located at Tri-County Animal Rescue in Boca Raton. The monument, which was created in partnership with American Humane, was dedicated May 15, 2021. Also in partnership with American Humane, she created the K9 Medal of Courage, the highest honor given to military service dogs.
She also created the Pups4Patriots initiative, within the Lois Pope LIFE Center for Military Affairs at American Humane, a program takes dogs primarily from shelters and provides them with specialized training as therapy dogs. Then they are given free of charge to veterans suffering from PTSD and other traumatic brain injuries.
Mrs. Pope has also been the presenting sponsor of American Humane’s annual Hero Dog Awards for the past 10 years, and a benefactor of the organization’s legendary Red Star Rescue mobile hospitals. Within American Humane, she is known as the “First Lady of Compassion.”
Her love and advocacy of animal welfare inspired Mrs. Pope to give $1.5 million to the Tri-County Animal Rescue – the largest single donation the organization has ever received – to endow its new 9,000-square-foot veterinary center. It is the first center in the region specifically geared to providing low-cost, and sometimes no-cost, veterinary care to low-income families for their pets.
Another film project that is demonstrative of her love for dogs is called “Made for Each Other” and it explores the primordial relationship between dogs and human beings. The film was produced and directed by Ric Burns and Bonnie Lafave of Steeplechase Films; Mrs. Pope is the Executive Producer and chief creative partner.
With the impact of the COVID-9 pandemic on her mind, and especially how it has affected children in need in her home region, where one in five suffers from food insecurity, Mrs. Pope made a $1 million donation to the Palm Beach County Food Bank to endow its meal program for kids in the county. In gratitude, the Food Bank renamed the program Lois’ Food4Kids.
Mrs. Pope is the driving force behind the establishment of the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine, home to the Miami Project/Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, the world’s foremost center for research, treatment, and services for paralysis and other neurological diseases.
Mrs. Pope has given $12 million to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute to create the Lois Pope Center for Retinal & Macular Degeneration Research at Bascom Palmer’s Palm Beach Gardens, Florida campus. The largest gift ever received by Bascom Palmer, it was made in memory of Mrs. Pope’s mother, who suffered from macular degeneration prior to her death.
Her beneficence has also provided scholarships to low-income teens who are aspiring community medical doctors, summer camp experiences for thousands of under-served children, a clean water system for a village in Guatemala, support for African women who were victims of genocide, and many other initiatives helping the voiceless and vulnerable in society. Moreover, she has donated 13 ambulances to Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency response service—she is the largest non-Jewish donor to the organization.
A mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, she has rescued many dogs and cats. A resident of Manalapan, FL., she has trained for and completed five marathons.
To learn more about Lois Pope and her various foundations, visit www.life-edu.org.