Riverbrook thanks Purradise, a Great Barrington cat shelter run by the Berkshire Humane Society, for this article in their Summer 2017 newsletter. Riverbrook and Purradise collaborate to provide job training for women with intellectual disabilities.
In January of 2016, Purradise began a collaboration with Riverbrook, thanks to a grant from Berkshire Charitable Life Foundation. Riverbrook is an all-women residence located in Stockbridge, MA, that helps those with intellectual and developmental disabilities lead full, enviable lives. This collaboration allowed the staff at Purradise to train some of the Riverbrook residents through an Animal Care Technician Assistant program.
Under the supervision of Kathy Leahey, a Riverbrook employee in charge of direct care, the women learned skills necessary to safely care for cats in a shelter environment. Many of the skills taught during this program are directly relatable to everyday life, such as interacting with people and animals, job responsibility, and caring for a loved one. At Purradise, the women learned proper dilution ratios for sanitation, how to prevent the spread of germs, feline socialization methods, and feline body language. These experiences build confidence and community. The benefit to Purradise and all our feline residents is evident. The women enjoy working with us as much as we enjoy having them as part of our family. Often they continue as volunteers, even after the conclusion of the program. It’s a win-win for all of us—especially the cats!