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By Stacy Evensen, Director of Educational & Vocational Services

“Every once in a while a dog enters your life and changes everything.”

It’s been two years in the making but we are finally ready to open our newest Hale Kipa program, Paws for a Cause. Only the second such program in the country, Paws for a Cause will support multiple goals for our agency:

  • Paws will provide a unique job skills training program for youth 18-21 who lack basic employment skills, and therefore, the ability to get and retain a living wage job. While adding to the existing educational support services already provided by Hale Kipa, Paws for a Cause will use the lure of furry friends to keep youth engaged and complete the 6 to 12-week course;
  • Additionally—and very importantly—working closely with dogs will provide a healing environment that will foster increased responsibility, caring, compassion and a sense of trust among our youth trainees;
  • Paws will also meet a growing need on the Windward side for a quality dog daycare that provides dogs with physical and mental stimulation in a clean and well-supervised (and fun!) environment. Dogs will enjoy walks outside, an occasional bath and gentle reinforcement of good dog manners while playing with their dog buddies. [Overnight boarding will start in April];
  • With Paws for a Cause, Hale Kipa has put its baby toe into the social entrepreneurship “waters”, and if successful, we will not only reduce our reliance on government funding, we will also help youth develop the employment skills that will help them to “actualize their potential and social responsibility”. Our goal is to achieve complete financial self-sufficiency by year 2. It is intended that all revenue earned by Paws be used to support and grow the program with multiple ideas for expansion to include a Paws on every island.

Paws for a Cause will open on Monday, February 16, and will enroll dogs as we add staff (we intend to keep a low staff-to-dogs ratio). Our first employee is our dog trainer, Marie Selarque. Marie is a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) through the certification council for professional dog trainers and holds a counseling certificate (CC) from the San Francisco SPCA Dog Trainers Academy. She is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and a Tellington TTouch practitioner. Marie’s training incorporates a mindful approach ensuring an appropriate lifestyle, reinforcing the right behaviors, establishing respect through mindful leadership. This philosophy led her to be part of our Paws for a Cause program where she is the Lead Dog Trainer and Assistant Manager.

We hope to add more staff over the next few weeks. Please stop by and meet Marie and others when you come to Kaneohe (46-178 Kahuhipa Street, Kaneohe, Space “P”—phone number is 235-0005).

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