We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicole Navarro and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nicole, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I was born and raised on a thirty-acre horse farm about 20 miles North of Pittsburgh, PA. I was the only child between my mother and father and had a very fortunate upbringing. My love of animals was definitely formed early on and has followed me throughout my entire life. Aside from horses, our neighbor was the county wildlife rehabilitation officer for our area so we always had a variety of native wildlife on our property being nursed back to health. Our community was a small, tight-knit one. No one locked their doors. We could walk down the road to get to each other’s houses. It was definitely a blue-collar working community and everyone respected each other. My father worked for my Grandfather in the family’s construction company. Navarro Corporation was a highly successful and innovative company for the time. My Grandfather, Pasquale Navarro, was admired by his peers and competitors alike. He was a two time recipient of the Top Award for the “Outstanding Individual in the Construction Industry.” In 1971, he received a “Special Commendation” from the United States Labor Department for many contributions to the improvement of the industry and community. In 1983, he was named one of the top 200 most influential people in Pittsburgh in a survey conducted by the Pittsburgh Press. I was fortunate to grow up in a time and in a family where hard work and honesty got you places. I carry a lot of those same values today. There was a time in my life where I veered off course, however, those experiences I had during that time also had a major impact on the success I have today running my non profit.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am the President and Founder of Pawsitive Beginnings Incorporated. We are the only 501c3 fur farm fox rescue in the Florida Keys. My journey with animal rescue started years ago but my jump into the non-profit sector started this year after volunteering for years at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm in Key West, FL. In November of 2018, two foxes were surrendered to the Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm and I became completely infatuated with the species. I soon realized that there was a need for more facilities to be able to take in foxes that are being saved from the fur trade. I quickly applied for my specialized permit to be able to house foxes in the state of Florida. Soon after that I applied for my business license and then my non profit status with the IRS. When the pandemic hit back in March, I was laid off of my full-time job in the tourist industry and the Florida Keys closed itself off to visitors. I received a call from a friend who runs a fox rescue in Tampa asking me if I was ready to take in foxes and I immediately agreed. In May of 2020 I brought my first two foxes home and then in July, another two foxes came to me. What I would like to world to know is that each year in the United States, thousands of animals are still being bred and pelted for their fur. And while many major fashion houses have taken a stance against fur and have banned it from their collections, there is still enough demand for these fur farmers to stay in business.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The Florida Keys are definitely known for many things, the first of those being scuba diving or snorkeling on our reef system. We are home to the third largest barrier reef in the world so getting out on the water is top priority when visiting. The Florida Keys and Key West are a one hundred mile Long Island chain with Key Largo being the first Key and Key West being the last. Making our way down the Keys we would stop at Robbie’s Marina to feed the Tarpon which is a pretty popular tourist attraction. On the island of Marathon is the Turtle Hospital, a one of a kind facility that rehabilitates and releases sea turtles all year long. Big Pine Key is home to Key Deer. An endangered species of deer that resembles the White Tail Deer but they are about half the size. Once in Key West the possibilities are endless for fun and entertainment. The world famous Sloppy Joe’s Saloon sits right on Duval Street. The Hemingway Home and Museum is home to over 50 cats, some of which are believed to be direct descendent of Hemingway’s original six-toed cat. I am definitely fortunate to live in such a diverse area here.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My family has definitely played a major roll in getting where I am today. They have always stood behind me and encouraged me to follow my passion in life which is animal rescue. My high school English teacher has also always encouraged me to do the same and reminds me regularly that I need to start writing my autobiography.

Website: pawsitivebeginnings.org
Instagram: instagram.com/pawsitive_beginnings_inc
Facebook: Facebook.com/pawsitivebeginningsrescue

Image Credits
me kissing the fox – Ayla Croft – photographer

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.