UNION COUNTY, OH (WCMH) — Jim Mellick began his woodworking experience 40 years ago, but after recently retiring as an art teacher, Mellick wanted to make sure one of his final projects would be one of his best.
“If it were to be my capstone project, the last project I ever did in my lifetime, I couldn’t think of a better project,” Mellick says.
That project is the Wound Warrior Dogs Project, which he created to encourage awareness and raise donations for veteran’s services.
Earlier this month, he took the project to Grand Rapids, Michigan for an international art contest that featured nearly 1,500 artists. He returned to his home in Union County, Ohio the grand prize winner, which includes a $200,000 prize. He plans to donate 10 percent of the winnings back to veteran’s services.
Also coming back with Mellick is the reaction he received from veterans.
“Tears, handshakes, hugs,” he says. “I hesitate to even say this because I know the sacredness of it, but there were people who were comparing this to their feelings and emotions at the Vietnam Wall.”
Despite never serving in the military, Mellick recognized that the best way to gain support through his work was through man’s best friend.
“The most tight bond of human and dog is as they relied upon each other in battle,” Mellick says.
Mellick’s art will be on display this February and March at The Ohio Craft Museum in Grandview.