Groomer to Groomer

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Helping Hands

Groomers band together to aid victims of hurricane sandy

Grooming Matters

By Daryl Conner

When Hurricane Sandy was barreling toward the East Coast last October, Lisa Correia, a mobile pet stylist from Toms River, NJ, was at a grooming trade show in Florida. “My mind was not on the show,” she told me. “I watched all the news transpire via my smart phone. The storm was projected to hit my town. I was so worried about my clients that live right along the shore. My house is 10 miles inland, so I wasn’t as concerned about our home as I was for my customers.”

Lisa, traveling with her daughter Brianna, waited until the storm had passed so that they could make the drive back safely. “Our home survived with very little damage, nothing like the devastation that my clients experienced. A lot of them lost their homes or lost the first floors of their homes. Driving into town, it looked like a war zone. There were houses blown off their foundations, some as much as two blocks from where they originated.”

Two days after the storm hit, Lisa found herself back in her community and wanting to help those who lost so much. “The first thing I did was find out where the local shelters for storm victims were. One was at a high school right down the street from where I live. I went there to volunteer help and was put right to work with a veterinarian. We worked triaging animals. Some had bumps, bruises, and swelling. Many had flea infestations. None of the animals we saw had broken bones, which was good.”

Lisa went back every day for about a week until that shelter was closed and people were moved into more permanent temporary housing. Not finished with her kindness, Lisa said, “I looked around for where I could be most useful next. I thought, ‘I have a very specific set of skills here. How can I use them?’”

Belmar, a community that suffered much damage during the storm, was known for having a lot of pet-loving people residing within it. Lisa called the township and asked if she could help. Working with a woman who was organizing relief efforts, Lisa arranged to help by offering free grooming to pets whose owners had been affected by the storm.

Using social networking and calling on groomer friends, Lisa gathered seven mobile groomers with their vans, several other groomers without vans, and a kind-hearted veterinarian, David Weiss. On Sunday, November 11, all of them met at the Belmar town square, bringing with them donated pet food, toys, and leashes. “And more than just items for pets – we had things for people, too. Cleaning supplies and things like that. So many groomers stepped up and donated. There was an amazing outpouring from the grooming community. It was overwhelming how much people wanted to give, and these were people from all over, not just from the immediate area.”

The group cleaned up pets that had ridden out the storm and needed some tender one-on-one attention. Dr. Weiss treated pets for a variety of ailments, referring those that needed more specialized care to facilities that could help them. The event was such a huge success that it spawned two other gatherings of helpful groomers: one in Toms River and one in Barnegat. Not only did the groomers travel and work, they also solicited donations and brought those donations with them. “Frank Rowe and Son donated so much to our cause, as did the nice people at Cherrybrook. Hartz donated, too. So many people were so generous,” Lisa said.

The effect? Besides cleaning up pets that had been through a traumatic time, these groomers gave some genuine comfort to the storm victims. “We brought a little sense of normalcy back to their lives. With no power, no running water, and no phone service, they could at least turn to us to clean up their precious pets. There were so many heart-wrenching stories. The people were so grateful that we would come out and give them what we could. Many were crying with gratitude.”

I asked Lisa how all this made her feel. “We became this family. It was all about helping people that really needed us. We all walked away from this drained but so satisfied. Groomers helping groomers helping others.” Because grooming matters. ✂

Groomers involved:

  • Jane Cagney
  • Lisa Elk Carroll
  • Lisa Correia
  • Elaine Chelak
  • Beth Cronk
  • Jon Debruler
  • Nancy Debruler
  • Mary Kay Erickson
  • Kellie Klunder
  • Kate McMahon
  • Mary Oquendo
  • Susan Pratt
  • Monica Villegas
  • Marilyn Wainwright