By Wayne Baker
Journal-News, Hamilton, Ohio
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This article takes a look at the terrific “Project Life Transition program” at Butler Tech that is giving young adults with disabilities the opportunity to learn entry level and transferable job skills.
The Brewhaus Dog Bones non-profit company was founded in 2014, with the idea that it could create some delicious treats for your favorite pet, as well as help young adults with disabilities learn job skills. A local partnership with Butler Tech and Ross students has been a tasty success.
The Journal-News peeked inside the kitchen this week at the Ross Local School District to see what was cooking, and found five dedicated students whipping up some tasty dog bones.
Jill Henning, instructor for the Project Life Transition program at Butler Tech, said the school partnered with Brewhaus as one of its job training sites for young adults with disabilities.
“Brewhaus was founded by Lisa Graham and she only releases this program to schools so that young adults with disabilities are giving the opportunity to learn entry level and transferable job skills,” Henning explained. “So with this partnership we are located in Ross Local School District and we use their kitchen.”
Zach Abney, Ethan Courtney, Gabby Jones, Jordan Opoku and Eavilee Rainey come from Ross, Middletown, Lakota, Monroe and Fairfield school districts. Teams rotate in to keep the operation running smoothly during the school year.
There work ethic is on point as they run through the baking process like a well-oiled machine.
They hit the road to collect spent grains from local breweries — Municipal Brew Works in Hamilton and the Mt. Healthy-based Fibonacci Brewing Company. Part of the not-so-secret recipe involves a trip to local breweries to get a key ingredient.
“So we go there and pick up the grains and the students then come back here, and they use the spent grains and other ingredients to make a dough which they put into dog bone molds and then they bake the dog bones and package them and then they go out on Wednesday’s and deliver them to local vendors who have agreed to sell those products for us,” Henning said.
She added that sales are incredible. “I think they are producing roughly 200 bags a week and they dispense those out to about 7 or 8 vendors and 2 more are coming on board this month.”
One recipe that has been working involves peanut butter, which is brought is made by Graeter’s Ice Cream, which is also working on three additional flavors for the local entrepreneurs to use.
Nancy Michael, is the job coach for Ross’ Project Life 101, which is a transition program that helps students with disabilities learn real-world skills. She’s happy to see the dog bones program’s success.
“This is the very first year and we have been very successful,” she said. “The kids are getting experience working out in the field with vendors and doing the production as well as marketing.”
Jim Goodman CEO-Founder Municipal Brew Works, said the kids are showing a good work ethic and he’s glad to be involved with the project.
“Our tap room is dog friendly and we have had a tremendous amount of interest and support for the program,” he said. “People read the display in our tap room or hear about the program and really want to support it. We are so happy for their success in teaching young adults with special needs valuable and employable skills. They do all of this while creating a great product of which they can all be proud.”
Henning said she would like to see the dog bone making operation go year around.
“We are trying to continue this program through the summer,” she said. “We have customer that we would like to keep happy and make this a year around thing.”