STARability Foundation recently presented a STAR Award to its committed vocational partner, Pampered Pet Resorts. The award was presented to Pampered Pet Resorts owner Joyce Aliaga by employee and Trailblazer Academy participant Thomas (Tom) Cassaday.
The award recognizes local businesses that employ STARability participants, including those enrolled in the Trailblazer Academy, a community-based program focused on providing vocational training, life skill development, and recreational experiences for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Pampered Pet Resorts began its partnership with STARability as a 3K sponsor in 2019. “Following the event, we immediately knew we wanted to further our relationship with STARability,” said Aliaga. “As we learned more about the option of hiring Trailblazer Academy participants, we asked to be added to their network of inclusive employers and it’s one of the best decisions we have made. Employing Tom has been an amazing experience for the entire team.”
Tom has been a STARability participant since 2015, joining the Trailblazer Academy in September 2016 as one of the first members. During his time in the program, he had the opportunity to volunteer at the Humane Society of Naples for two years where he cleaned, folded laundry and assisted with special projects such as putting peanut butter in toys as enrichment for the dogs. Tom had prior experience from a dog walking business with his father in New York for five years, and then in Naples for two years that initially sparked his love of caring for animals. He went on to work for Guided Eyes for the Blind, in which they provide guide dogs to people with vision loss.
As his desire to continue working in the field grew, STARability matched Tom as a best-fit candidate for Pampered Pet Resorts and he was offered a paid position in September 2021. With the support of his job coach, Woodly Charles, Tom handles responsibilities such as refreshing kennels (laying out blankets, refilling water, picking up spills), cleaning dishes (bowls, toys) and doing laundry (pet blankets, towels). Tom was recognized as a featured “pack member” in April 2022 for his caring and positive attitude, hard work and passion for helping animals.
“STARability’s work would not be possible without valuable community partners such as Pampered Pet Resorts,” said Madison McNally, STARability’s Chief Program Officer and Trailblazer Academy Director. “Being welcomed into these organizations truly gives our participants a sense of purpose. As our vocational partnerships continue to grow, we are increasing coaching staff to ensure we can create matches that benefit both the businesses and our STARs.”
Pampered Pet Resorts is an upscale boarding and daycare facility in Naples with 24/7 availability for up to 160 animals. With a shared passion and complementary skill sets, Aliaga and co-owner Frank Hake pride themselves on offering the very best dog and puppy training, daycare, and boarding facility known to dog. Services provided include boarding with an array of comfortable suite options, half- and full-day daycare and grooming complete with “bubble time,” as well as a variety of programs for puppies, senior dogs and private play. Premier features such as splash pad play time and birthday parties, individual suites for every guest, live cams throughout the facility, a state-of-the-art air handling system and a restaurant-grade cleaning system elevate the experience, and owners can rest assured all pets will immediately be treated as part of the family.