“I’m doing the job that I love, and I get to be around a lot of animals. That’s really great.”

Destiny loves being around animals every day—so much so that she’s decided to make a career out of it.

She’s training to become a professional groomer through Crossroads Campus, a United Way partner agency that leans on the healing bond of humans and animals to help young adults overcome generational poverty, inequity and trauma.

Destiny had been at Youth CAN working toward her GED when she first connected with Crossroads. She had a hard time finding support in high school and left during her freshman year.

“It was really early mornings, and I didn’t feel very supported in the high school that I went to,” she says. “I was just having a tough time there. My freshman year was really bad, and I got so behind. They told me that I wouldn’t graduate with my class, so I just decided to drop out and get my diploma elsewhere.”

While finishing up her HiSET, Destiny started working at the Crossroads Pets Shop & Adopt Pet Retail Store, running the register, pricing inventory and working with customers. What she loved, though, was the time she spent caring for animals waiting to be adopted.

“I was learning how to take care of the animals and learning different behaviors and tactics to help them,” she says. Many of the animals have experienced neglect and trauma.

Then Crossroads asked if she’d like to spend even more time with the animals and help with grooming. Through Crossroads Grooming Social Enterprise, Destiny was able to learn and master specific skills tailored to ultimately becoming a professional groomer. This piqued her interest and she excelled in this area of the job training program. She’s now the lead grooming associate.

“That’s how it all started. You could add more money to your paycheck because you get tips with grooming. Then I decided I really liked grooming and wanted to pursue that career.”

Crossroads says transitioning to adulthood and independent living can be daunting for anyone, especially young people who are working to overcome poverty and homelessness. That’s why they offer affordable housing through a residential program, which Destiny is a part of. Young adults share a four-bedroom apartment while they work toward specific education, career or housing goals and build a sense of community.

“Before Crossroads, I was living with my mom and the house just got too crowded,” she says. “We went from a three-bedroom to a two-, and it was just a lot of people living there. I didn’t feel comfortable and didn’t have enough space.”

Because of her hard work at Crossroads, Destiny now has a stable income and is working toward a career she’s passionate about.

“I’m doing the job that I love, and I get to be around a lot of animals. That’s really great.”

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