In Father Rick Curry, S.J., I found a kindred spirit. We shared a passion for service and empowering others to build meaningful and purposeful lives.
Father Curry is no longer with us, but it’s important that we continue sharing his story. One of the ways we do that is to celebrate his life and legacy every year around his birthday on March 18.
When our paths first crossed many years ago, it was immediately clear that we were brought together to make a difference – or “bake a difference,” as we like to say at Dog Tag Inc.
We both have personal connections to the military community, particularly military spouses and veterans with service-related injuries. And we both believe in teaching a man or woman how to fish — providing a hand up, not a hand out.
It was a match made in heaven for a Jesuit father and this Jewish godmother to join forces and launch the Dog Tag program.
Father Curry was born into a middle-class Irish family in Philadelphia in 1943. At birth, he was missing his right forearm. That put him in a position of being uniquely familiar with the challenges faced by people with disabilities. Later in life, as a Jesuit priest, he was frequently called to counsel amputees. After 9/11, he was particularly inspired to help veterans with service-connected disabilities find meaning and gainful employment after serving our country.
Father Curry earned a doctorate in theater from NYU and founded National Theater Workshop of the Handicapped, a theater company and school that provided training and performing space for writers and performers with disabilities. He also founded the Wounded Warriors Writers’ workshop program. He truly lived a life of service for others.
Together in 2013, in the heart of Georgetown, we opened Dog Tag Bakery. But it was to be much more than a bakery. Soon after, we launched the Dog Tag fellowship program.
The five-month long fellowship offers military veterans with service-connected disabilities, military spouses, and caregivers a business education at Georgetown University (where Father Curry was an Adjunct Professor of Catholic Studies), hands-on learning and skills development in a real small business at Dog Tag Bakery, career exploration, business plan creation, and wellness practices. Fellows leave the program having had a holistic experience that prepares them for the next phase of their lives.
You can see Father Curry’s impact in the success of Dog Tag’s alumni. It’s inspiring to watch so many of these incredible individuals go on to find purpose as entrepreneurs, nonprofit founders, and community leaders. Their involvement in communities across the United States will produce countless positive outcomes for many years to come. Father Curry’s commitment to service continues to be an inspiration to us all.
Father Curry passed away on December 19, 2015. We miss him dearly, but his spirit lives on every day at Dog Tag Inc. In years past, we’ve celebrated St. Patrick’s Day and Father Curry’s birthday with a float in Washington, D.C.’s annual parade. We will be unable to have an in-person gathering this year, but many of us in the Dog Tag family will take personal moments throughout the day to honor his memory. On March 18, please join us in taking time to thank Father Curry for his service and contributions.