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Villanova documentary on Hand2Paw - helping homeless youths and shelter animals

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When University of Pennsylvania college student Rachel created Hand2Paw for a class assignment in 2009, she knew it was a worthwhile community program. But had no idea the impact it would have.

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Taken over by Penny Ellison in 2012, Philadelphia non-profit Hand2Paw has made a huge difference not only to youths but also to homeless animals. The growing program empowers 18-21 year olds to volunteer in Philly animal shelters to learn marketable skills and pursue employment working with animals.

We can't think of anything more mutually beneficial, as the youths provide care, training, grooming, and socialization to shelter animals as they await forever homes. In turn, the youths gain the confidence and skills to live fulfilling, productive lives.

This fall, H2P was the subject of a Villanova University Social Justice Documentary project, Heel’d, which features the work of Hand2Paw and two of their partners, the PSPCA and Covenant House.

Watch trailer here.

It tells the story of Jerome, who has been in and out of Covenant House since 2010 and worked at the PSPCA as a kennel attendant. He associates his situation with that of homeless animals - trusting people who let them down; being left to fend for themselves; starting over with nothing. He believes working with animals through Hand2Paw has helped him mature, become more confident, and changed his life.

"Youth homelessness and animal homelessness are both huge problems in this country, but they both tend to be invisible problems. And what Hand2Paw is trying to do is bring both of those problems out into the light, make people notice that there are millions of homeless animals and millions of homeless young people." ~Penny Ellison, Executive Director, The Hand2Paw Foundation

All are welcome to attend a second screening of the documentary, produced by Stepped In It Studios, on Friday, March 28 at Villanova University in the Driscoll Hall Auditorium (College of Nursing building) at 7 pm. For more details, visit the official Heel'd Facebook page.

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