making life less ruff

You may remember the Alex and Ali Foundation from a past issue of South. The nonprofit organization, which works to empower young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities through meaningful employment opportunities, has embarked on another outreach: Happy Hounds.

Jennifer and Andrew Parker founded the nonprofit in 2014 and named it after their son, Alex, and his best friend, Ali Callahan, both of whom have autism. As Alex grew older, he found fewer opportunities to be productive. Thus, Happy Hounds was born. The nonprofit doggy day care’s mission is two-fold: To provide care for local pups and to provide safe, stable jobs for young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. Employees receive career coaching from the manager on staff, training in dog care and the opportunity to hone their social skills while interacting with customers.

“We are truly changing lives of these individuals with developmental disabilities,” Jennifer says. “They have so much value, worth and ability. They just need the right environment and support to be successful. They are passionate about taking care of dogs and sharing love with them.”

Happy Hounds, which opened in September, operates out of a home that is now commercially zoned. Information:

— By Jenny Elig