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.

The Hand2Paw Timeline

Unleashing Opportunities for Youth and Animals

Hand2Paw has developed a specialized, evidence-based curriculum to ensure that our interns develop a skill set that will serve them not only in their personal lives and future employment, but also as members of their community. We strive to send our interns into the world as ambassadors of humane treatment of animals and compassion for their fellow community members.

Our approach is to create a safe and supportive work environment where young adults can intentionally embark on a journey of healing and growth while also earning a wage that enables them to build the life they want for themselves.

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