21-year-old Cheslyn has always had a passion for animals and is ‘super excited and keen’ to soon realise her dream of working with them, thanks to the support of Happy Paws Happy Hearts Foundation.
Earlier this year the not-for-profit received a Significant grant of almost $480,000 from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland, that has allowed them to establish an Employment Pathways program at Wacol which builds on their existing program, to service the Greater Brisbane and Ipswich community.
The Employment Pathways program is designed to help young Queenslanders, like Cheslyn, who are living with physical or mental health injuries, to have new pathways to transition into paid or volunteer employment after completing the Happy Paws Happy Hearts training program.
“Cheslyn has longed to work with animals, however achieving that goal of actually getting experience and employment, and not knowing where to start has always hindered her. This program is going to give Ches that start and to hopefully reach that end goal,” Cheslyn’s Mum, Tammy said.
“We are truly grateful and appreciate Hand Heart Pocket for their support and generosity!”
Happy Paws Happy Hearts Foundation CEO and co-founder Zoe Black said the new Employment Pathways program is an extension to their current program, allowing them to achieve even better outcomes for the young people they work with.
“The program helps them break down barriers and gives participants new skills, support and the confidence to create their own futures,” Ms Black said.
“We re-engage socially isolated youth through our revolutionised animal therapy model that brings groups together to learn how to care for and train animals in rescue shelters and wildlife sanctuaries.”
Although the program has been a catalyst for change for many, the organisation hasn’t had the resources to transition young participants who had become job-ready into suitable paid or volunteer employment until now.
“Many of our young participants grow significantly in their time at Happy Paws Happy Hearts, and it’s fantastic to now go that one step further to ensure they achieve longer-lasting outcomes through a structured employment pathway,” Ms Black said.
“The grant from Hand Heart Pocket has helped us establish the new Employment Pathways program with a sustainable business model so that as an organisation, we can achieve a deeper impact over the long-term.”
Hand Heart Pocket Acting CEO Robert Qualtrough said given that the Freemason charity’s philanthropic focus over the next three years is to improve outcomes for youth at risk, this initiative aligned perfectly.
“It’s now almost a year since we launched our refined philanthropic approach to work with other charities and philanthropists to improve outcomes for this group of people,” Mr Qualtrough said.
“We are proud to have partnered with Happy Paws Happy Hearts to empower at-risk youth to find stable work and have hope for their futures.”
Photo: Happy Paws Happy Hearts Foundation employment pathways program participant Cheslyn.