For many people, finding work that pays a living wage is difficult. That’s why Empowering the Parent to Empower the Child (EPEC)—a nonprofit organization located in Kansas City—launched The Grooming Project, a program that helps impoverished families become self-reliant by training them to become pet groomers.
David Michael, a district leader with PetSmart, was so impressed with EPEC’s program that he selected them to receive a PetSmart Charities grant.
“Their goal to give homeless mothers a chance to have a career is a noble one,” he says. “The fact that it’s in pet grooming makes it even more special to me. From my very first visit to their facility I was impressed with people, the quality of training, the integrity of the program and the facility itself.”
According to Natasha Kirsch, executive director of EPEC, the grant will be used to help students get an education.
“The PetSmart Charities grant will be used for emergency assistance for our students,” she says. “It will pay for food, gas, electric bills, medication, bus passes, and flat tires. All the stuff that needs to be taken care of so they can be in school learning how to groom.”
Program Makes a Genuine Difference
The results of the program can be life-changing. That was the case for Christine, a single mother of two. Working two jobs to make ends meet, she knew she needed a career with more stability.
Although she didn’t have much experience with animals, her children encouraged her to enroll in The Grooming Project. Thanks to her calm and empathetic nature, she’s successful with even anxious dogs. Now employed as a groomer at a pet hospital, she’s able to provide more stability for her family.
“I’m calmer at home now, because I know everything is taken care of,” she says. “We’re able to have some extra things that we couldn’t have before. We have reliable transportation. Going to work feels like I’m not working at all. The dogs are helping me as I’m helping them.”