Tucked away in the green mountains of Vermont is a small company specializing in creating gourmet animal treatments and helping those with learning disabilities find successful, gratifying work. Andy’s Dandys, which was formed in 2008 by Lucie Whiteford and Lesha Rasco, provides specialized work training programs for young adults with special needs and diverse learning styles. Whiteford, an avid baker and mom of a young adult with a unique learning style, and Rasco, a special educator, teamed up to prove that fulfilling employment is possible for everyone at every ability level.
Whiteford’s own son Andrew, who has Down syndrome, completed his education and works for the company. Rasco teaches classes twice a week and this spring three more students received certificates. Andy’s Dandys is certified by the state of Vermont as a training facility for at risk youth with special needs. The company offers an opportunity for young adults with special needs to learn a skill, in this case baking gourmet animal treats from scratch. This is an opportunity that otherwise wouldn’t exist for these young adults. The employees of Andy’s Dandys have a variety of strengths and challenges that have made it difficult for them to find work in the past.
Applications are available to those who would like to attend classes at Andy’s Dandys and learn about the baking industry. Women, individuals with disabilities and those with a diverse cultural background are encouraged to apply. For those in need of adaptive equipment and services, they will be made available upon request.
In the future, Whiteford and Rasco hope to expand the store, and to design a teaching method that can be used across other markets, expanding the learning and work opportunities for those with special learning needs. Support Andy Dandy’s cause by visiting their factory store in Richmond, Vermont. If you are a retailer, you can order products to sell.