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How to Navigate Homelessness When Your Best Friend Has Four Paws

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

One of the optional offline tasks presented during the GLAM Leadership and STEAM Program is to create a business plan and to submit a recorded, three-minute business pitch. Hundreds of girls have participated in this task and dozens of their businesses relate to the welfare and wellbeing of animals. Pets are important members of many families and are treated like best friends.

Iliana Belinc loves her pets like family. She is a first-generation Mexican American, social entrepreneur, Founder, and Executive Director. Iliana founded PalsNPets in 2018, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, sheltering homeless people with their pets. Most homeless shelters won’t take in pets, so people have to make the difficult choice either to stay on the streets or leave their pets. Many people remain homeless so they can stay with their four pawed best friends. Iliana has seen and understands the importance of pets. That awareness developed in Iliana’s early years through her relationship with her Mexican grandfather, Abuelito Carlos.

Growing up orphaned in Mexico, Abuelito Carlos relied on the warmth and companionship of stray dogs. As a young adult, Carlos began caring for stray dogs in his community. While other people in his Mexican pueblo viewed these strays as ‘pests’, Carlos saw their value; he gave them food, protection, and care they lacked. Through his consistent advocacy, Carlos slowly changed his community’s perception of strays.

Iliana looked forward to her visits with Abuelito Carlos for the chance to see his many dogs. Iliana understands the full significance of what her abuelito was doing and his capacity for compassion and bonding; that impact has extended through generations. Now Iliana’s nonprofit, PalsNPets, also works to break down barriers and change perceptions, just as Abuelito Carlos did.

Iliana’s superpower of curiosity has brought her far in her social entrepreneurial journey. It helps her to believe in herself, trust her abilities, and supercharges her most valuable and hidden potential. “I owe my everyday life, happiness in my career, and in my relationships to my superpower of being and staying curious,” Iliana confirms.

The world needs more caring, compassionate people like Iliana. If you are interested in nonprofit work, animals, and human dignity, then this interview is definitely for you! Team GLAM and Iliana hope that this interview inspires you to dream big, take chances, and follow your curiosity to make the world a better place.

More about PalsNPets

PalsNPets is a non-profit organization that strives to keep people and their pets together, even during times of homelessness. A team of dedicated staff members and veterinary assistants, teachers, mentors, and friends creates a safe, nurturing environment. This team provides essential veterinary care and educational programs to those still living on the streets as well as to those in shelters. PalsNPets understands the powerful healing bond between humans and their pets, and they believe that everyone deserves to experience the joy and comfort that a furry companion can bring to their lives. Pets are more than just animals; they are loving companions that offer support during hard times. Learn more about PalsNPets and donate here.

More about Apoorva Panidapu

Apoorva is a student math researcher, an artist, as well as a youth and minorities advocate. She is passionate about gender equity in STEAM and encouraging everyone to pursue their dreams. At age 12, Apoorva founded Apoorva Panidapu's Art Gallery, an online platform selling her artwork, with all proceeds going to charity. In addition, Apoorva has been supporting GLAM as a mentor, Keynote Speaker, Master of Ceremonies, and interviewer since 2018.

Watch their interview

If you want to become a visible, positive, female role model for girls and young women, then submit the free GLAM Superpower Survey for Women and join GLAM Sheroes!

If you want to showcase female leaders at your company and empower young leaders, please email Team GLAM for information about sponsorship of a GLAM Event.

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