By Mary Oquendo
Just imagine that after 25 years of hard work, your business is no longer there; maybe it burned down or was swept away in a flood. What if you were in a horrific accident and lost a limb or two? Or a natural disaster totaled all your equipment and supplies?
Then there’s Deana Mazurkiewicz. Her story is a very familiar story for many groomers this past year as Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria wreaked havoc across the United States. Hurricane Irma spent about 9 hours over Deana’s home and, when she was finished, she left a great deal of damage; trees down, barn flooded, and power out. No power in humid weather caused black mold damage in her shop. Out of work for two and half weeks and the expense of black mold removal can make recovering from a disaster difficult—if not impossible. Deana’s is just one of many similar applications that GEAF received this year.
All of these unfortunate situations—and more—have affected professional groomers without warning. And that’s where the Groomers Emergency Assistance Fund steps in.
“Groomers Emergency Assistance Fund is amazing. Not only did they help me in my time of need, but for all they do for everyone else. Thank you!”—Deana Mazurkiewicz
After Hurricane Sandy devastated the US Eastern Shore in 2012, followed by the subsequent flooding, and then the tornadoes later in the year that ravaged Oklahoma, Ileana Nogueras began thinking of a better way to help professional pet groomers in the United States hit by tragedy. And on July 4th, 2013, she founded the Groomers Emergency Assistance Fund (GEAF).
There are 7 additional all–volunteer board members. They include Judi Cantu Thacker, Jennifer Walker, Jameson Kon, Milena Kon, Ellen Ehrlich, Kristie Kingsland, and Mary Oquendo, as well as two advisors in Dawn Omboy and Daryl Conner.
As a 501(3)c non profit registered with the IRS, there are specific rules that must be followed. An application must be filled out and then it is vetted to ensure its legitimacy. The applicant must be a US citizen.
Our Mission Statement is, “The Groomers Emergency Assistance Fund is an advocate for professional pet groomers in the United States affected by unforeseen tragedy by offering financial assistance for qualified applicants, as well as provide outside resources for assistance.”
Groomers Emergency Assistance Fund can help in various ways:
1. Direct an applicant to the various local and federal agencies that offer assistance.
2. Offer financial assistance. In 2017 alone, GEAF has disbursed over $25,000 in cash.
3. Replace equipment and supplies damaged by disasters. Our industry has the greatest vendors. While we receive equipment and supply donations from fellow groomers, our vendors have donated pallets of equipment and products, sharpened and repaired donated equipment, as well as made large cash donations.
4. Promote vetted GoFundMe pages.
However, we can only disperse what we receive in donation. Here are a few ways to help us help you:
1. Support our vendors. They are very generous when we are in need. The website is scheduled for updating in February where we will list those vendors.
2. Participate in our fundraisers both online and at trade shows. As long as a Board Member can attend a trade show, all the directors provide us with booth and event space. There are always baskets and lunch dates with industry leaders raffled off. Our largest trade show fundraiser happens at Groom Expo in Hershey, PA. The Thursday before is the Internet Mingle. It is a fun filled evening with games, food, cash bar, and prizes. Lots of prizes.
3. Cash donations. On our website, you can make a donation through PayPal. Just click on the red Donate button or drop some cash in our jars at our booth at trade shows. Frank Rowe and Sons will double cash donations up to $500 made at their booth.
4. Groom One For GEAF. Donate the price of one groom to help your fellow groomers in need. You can make that donation via the Donate button on the website.
5. Donate equipment in good, working condition. If you are going to be at a trade show, contact us at [email protected] so we can direct you to a vendor or board member who will transport it to our warehouse.
“For it is in giving that we receive.”
–St. Francis of Assissi
There isn’t a single person who has received assistance from the GEAF that was expecting their need. We can only help with what has been donated. So, be generous, you never know if you will find yourself in need of our help. ✂