Woofgang & Co.: New training facility for young adults with disabilities provides opportunities

Connecticut Families

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — In a commercial kitchen, young adults with disabilities are hard at work, weighing dough and mixing ingredients, making dog treats with a purpose.

“You can see how busy everyone is, they take it very seriously,” says Amiee Turner, Executive Director of Woofgang & Co.

“We have things like levelers to help them learn to measure, we have scales with large numbers,” says Production Manager Flo O’Brien.

This is a brand new vocational training facility – or bakery – for Woofgang & Co. The ribbon cutting took place last week. The dog biscuits are then sold at this Fairfield store.

“It’s really exceptional what we do here, it’s very individualized, so we focus on the quality of the training and the learning opportunities we give to the team members,” says Turner.

Participants – a community that’s vulnerable – are slowly returning with safety protocols in place. During quarantine, the team kept in touch with lively Zoom calls.

“They’re tons of fun. sometimes we play Bingo, sometimes we play Hangman, sometimes we do charades,” says Chris Lopes, a 24-year-old with Down syndrome.

“They would have a word of the day incorporating vocabulary from business like ‘quality control,’ for instance, was one of our words,” explains Turner.

The non-profit, created by mothers of young adults with disabilities, provides work training and more.

“The second is community awareness, educating everyday people and business owners that there really is an advantage of utilizing people with disabilities,” says Turner.

Lopes loves being part of the Woofgang crew.

“People call it a safe haven – I call it the most wonderful place to be with your friends and family,” he says.

The new bakery means Woofgang & Co. can add more shifts for more participants and put the special dog biscuits into even more stores.

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