Sometimes, the simplest things in life can prove to be the most rewarding. For Dustin LaBo and his family, a lifelong passion became a dream job that he is now taking one step further to give back to the community.
When his job in sales folded a few years back, Dustin found himself suddenly without a job. Stuck is the word he used to describe how he felt. One day as he was looking at his fish tank, it struck him that maybe his passion could become his livelihood.
This dream began with a bucket and hose as he cleaned fish tanks to build a dedicated cliental base and a business. That hard work and determination spanned five and a half years until Labo’s Aquatics, a Bryan based small business featuring saltwater and freshwater aquariums, live stock, and dry goods, opened a storefront site in downtown Bryan, Ohio.
His vision has grown into a desire to give back to the community he loves and has been such a support to him and his family. Last school year, he offered a reading program that rewarded children with fish for reading. He shares, “I am always trying to find things to give back.”
The idea to help kids grew into a vision to help children whose parents are deployed. As he researched this idea, he discovered that there are not a lot of children in the area at this time with parents deployed. He was visiting the Veterans Administration in Williams County and was astonished at the sheer number of veterans in Williams county alone that are battling PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, as a result of their experiences serving the country.
He decided to take his vision one step further. Dustin desires to help as many veterans suffering from PTSD as he can by providing a fish tank, the fish, lights, and set-up. He is focusing locally on a 20-30 mile radius from Bryan so if something happens, he is close by to assist with maintenance issues.
“Fish are really good for PTSD,” Dustin states. “They provide a routine and a responsibility as well as a calming effect.” The same benefits apply to children whose parents are deployed. “I started with the idea of the kids. I could not imagine having a parent deployed. My hope is that the fish will bring some joy to life while their parents are gone.”
Dustin has been positively overwhelmed by the community support of other local businesses that have rallied behind him for this project. To name a few, Franz Karate will donate free lessons. Stacey Barker will provide a photo shoot. Curves will provide programs for women. He has had some of his customers stop in his store asking how they can help as well.
“As we have done programs and are doing programs, I am seeing how other businesses want to help out. I am feeling a closer sense of community,” expressed Dustin.
As he prepares for his first three fish tank set ups for area veterans, he is looking for names of veterans suffering from PTSD as well as children whose parents are deployed in the Bryan, Ohio and greater area. If you are interested or know someone who might benefit, he encourages you to reach out to him at 419-633-2934 or stop by his store Labo’s Aquatics at 106 N. Main Street, Bryan. Donations towards the program are also welcomed and appreciated.
Together, as a community he believes this program and other programs that reach out to help others have the potential to grow and create a closer sense of community. He looks forward to helping veterans and children of military families one fish tank at a time.
Tammy Allison may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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