A UPenn Student’s Vision
In 2009, Rachel Cohen, then a 19 year old student at the University of Pennsylvania, started volunteering at an animal shelter in Grays Ferry. As she walked across the University Avenue Bridge from campus, she saw many teens taking shelter there and noticed that they often clung to a dog as a source of comfort. Rachel thought about that bond and how the shelter was always short of help to care for the animals. She decided to create something that would bring these two marginalized groups together.
Rachel came up with the idea to take an activity teens seemed to love—caring for animals—and develop a program to support young adults experiencing homelessness or foster care. This program would create an environment that would allow youth to develop their potential while experiencing compassion for all beings. Thus, Hand2Paw was born.