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Finding work these days is tough, and that is without the added challenge of a barrier to employment such as a disability, lack of education or little to no practical work experience. YMCA employment programs, like Youth Skills at Work or Self Employment, support job seekers and entrepreneurs find meaningful employment.

Last October, the story of employment program participant Tessa, touched the lives of many at the YMCA. Tessa’s dream was to launch a company to support the rehabilitation and training of rescued dogs through positive reinforcement and encouragement.  Her company, Leash of Hope, grew out of the idea that man’s best friend deserves a second chance for a better life.  

Tessa can also attest to second chances. She experienced her own personal trauma and uses a service dog to support her daily activities.  Tessa says, “I created a dog training program that provides positivity, hope and joy in my life and in the lives of my clients.  The program tackles the problem issues of rescue dogs such as barking, sharking and counter surfing to come to a mutually beneficial living arrangement for everyone.  We work one step at a time to give hope to both ends of the leash.

Andrea Welling, Manager of Adult Learning programs adds, “We create a caring and supportive community for entrepreneurs and job seekers to build self confidence and reach their potential with their career aspirations. Our programs offer a great way for adults young and old to fulfill their dreams and get the help needed to reach their career goals."