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Developmental disability employment incentives spreading across the nation

Good Reasons and Delaware-based organization share model and mission

photo 1North Salem N.Y. (September 29, 2014) – Good Reasons™, a new social enterprise and dog treat line launched by Westchester-based provider of social services Community Based Services, Inc. (CBS), is on a new mission. While their internal mission of providing an integrated workforce and employment for people with autism and other developmental disabilities remains the same, CEO and founder, Vicki Sylvester, Ph.D., has assigned a new task to her team: find other companies with missions similar to Good Reasons’ and take notes! After an online search, Waggies by Maggie and Friends was discovered – a dog treat company that employs individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Based in Wilmington, Delaware, Waggies was founded in 2007 by Leigh Corrigan and Mary Ann Nolan, Both women have a daughter with an intellectual disability. At the time both women also shared a hope and desire for their daughters to experience meaningful work, but employment opportunities in the job market were scarce for neurotypical individuals let alone those with an intellectual or developmental disability. The two took matters into their own hands and created the positions they sought after for their children. As for the idea for dog treats, Leigh and Mary Ann knew they wanted a product that would sell. “Most dog owners are willing to spoil their pups with a delicious treat so it was a no brainer,” says Nolan.

photo 3(1)With Waggies in business for over seven years – and their mission quite successful – Good Reasons™ thought they could learn a thing or two from them. Through trial and error, Waggies has learned what has worked best for their business, but mostly, what makes their employees happy. They allow their bakers to try out different roles and assign them a duty for the day based on what they prefer to be doing. Waggies trains each baker individually, but what it really comes down to is modeling a work ethic and a standard for them to follow. “I see this as the start of a friendship. We share the same mission so why shouldn’t we share our ups and downs, questions and discoveries with one another, too? We’re excited to share our successes with someone who shares our passion,” adds Nolan regarding the new relationship with Good Reasons™.

Employment incentives for the disabled are beginning to take hold nationwide. Organizations are starting to see the benefit of employing workers who may not be their typical employee. “They come prepared to work and eager to learn from their superiors and be a productive member of society,” Nolan and Sylvester agree collectively. Companies like Waggies and Good Reasons™ are setting an example for how to effectively run a business while hiring workers with developmental disabilities. “I think our biggest hope is that our shared mission spreads throughout the country, and that employers begin to open their doors, and minds, to people of all abilities,” says Sylvester.

For more information on Waggies and their treats, visit their website at www.waggies.org.