Life Learned Through Caring for Others

Crossroads Campus is a nonprofit social enterprise using the healing power of animal care to transform the lives of young adults in the Nashville area. Through job training and employment opportunities at their pet store/grooming facility and their affordable housing program, individuals who have lost their way are given a home and a fresh start.


Like most major cities, Nashville has a significant homeless population. A source of specific concern to community leaders familiar with the problem has been how to target and support young adults between the ages of 17-25 who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Meanwhile, a growing body of research suggests that one of the best ways to build resilience in young adults dealing with significant trauma is to find ways for them to work with abandoned or neglected animals. Love heals, and powerful life lessons can be learned through caring for others. This concept is at the heart of Crossroads Campus’ work.


Love heals, and powerful life lessons can be learned through caring for others.


The social enterprise opened in March of 2013, utilizing this animal care method to assist young adults facing poverty and homelessness. They operate a retail pet store, a pet grooming service and have adoptable dogs and cats. Through these services, Crossroads is able to provide job training, employment and case management for the young adults they serve. Through an internship with Crossroads, the young adults are taken through a series of trainings and focus their growth in three skill areas: retail store sales and management, pet grooming and animal care.


Above the store where the interns can work and learn job skills, Crossroads has a pilot affordable housing program offering residential opportunities to the interns. This housing option is essential for the young adults, many of whom have no place else to live. Learning to live and work alongside each other also gives the individuals a chance to be in a loving, supporting community that feels like family. In the next three years, Crossroads hopes to expand its work significantly by adding a second location, housing an additional 25 young adults, with accompanying new job training and transitional employment placements.



As these traumatized cats and dogs transform, gain confidence, become affectionate and move on to their forever homes, they in turn unlock in the interns a belief in the possibility of positive change in their own lives. One of their recent interns shared how being at Crossroads and looking after the animals has transformed her life:


“I looked at animals like Fergie [a particularly traumatized dog], and compared it to my situation, how I was in facilities and it was a wait for me to get a foster home. For them it’s the same. With them I felt needed. I guess that’s what started me loving myself, when I felt needed.”


Today she is working full-time, studying for her college degree and has a stable and independent life. 


From Crossroads Campus: We’ve just recently joined SEA, and we’re excited for the opportunity to connect with and learn from other social entrepreneurs. We learned about SEA through REDF while participating in their Accelerator program for leaders of employment-focused social enterprises. We’re already benefiting from the webinars offered through SEA and look forward to attending future trainings and networking opportunities so we can continue to strengthen our social enterprise.”

To learn more about Crossroads Campus, check out their member directory profile.

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