Dutchess-based organizations are all hands on deck to help to create job opportunities for the disabled
North Salem, N.Y. (September 3, 2014) – “Give me one good reason!” We’ve all heard this remark at some point, usually offered up by someone in question of the sincerity of an old-fashioned good cause. Lucky for us, Good Reasons™ has plenty of, well…good reasons! One of the newest New York state social enterprises on the scene, Good Reasons™ is in pursuit of creating delicious, healthy dog treats while providing opportunity and employment for people with autism and other disabilities. Launched by premier Westchester-based providers of social services, Community Based Services, Inc. (CBS), the nonprofit has had quite a few helping hands (and paws) along the way.
Good Reasons™ founder and CEO of CBS, Vicki Sylvester, Ph.D, met Culinary Institute of America graduate Allan Katz in the early 1980’s while eating at his restaurant, Allyn’s, located in Millbrook, NY. Eventually, Katz began working for Community Based Services where the idea of a business that helped to advance the work opportunities, skills, and employment potential of those with autism and other disabilities was formed.
The two worked fervently – Katz a renowned chef and Sylvester a professional advocate for over 30 years – to bring their talents together and create Good Reasons™. Loving owner of three dogs herself, Sylvester was thrilled with the idea of a nonprofit that also provided human-grade, healthy treats for dogs across the country. Katz used his professional cooking background, love of eating, and attention to health to create a treat that was not only tasty, but also beneficial to dogs. Much time was spent searching and scouring for recipes, testing them, and making substitutions for ingredients of better quality. Some ingredients include fresh peas, blueberries, sunflower seeds, and applesauce, to name a few.
Once the plan was hatched and the recipes were dog approved, Sylvester and Katz were on the hunt for a facility large enough to produce the treats. With plenty of connections in the food service industry, Katz recommended Jim Milano of Nilda’s Desserts. A local Poughkeepsie manufacturer of delectable cookies and desserts, the commercial co-packing food service began as a seedling in 1989 when Jim’s wife, Nilda, began delivering cookies to just three Dutchess County stores as a part-time job. Avoiding IBM’s down-sizing during the time, Jim soon joined Nilda in the kitchen and the family business quickly began to flourish. In support of the cause, Nilda’s Desserts welcomed the opportunity to provide the space, and professional experience, for individuals of all abilities to work.
“Being around the Good Reasons™ employees is always pleasurable. There are no negatives to working with them. They are polite, well-mannered and always greet you with a big smile. It’s great to see them so motivated to get to work,” says Milano.
Nilda’s employees bake and bulk the treats while the Good Reasons’ employees come in and take over the packaging aspect for the finished product. Since the treats contain all human-grade ingredients, Milano and Katz have been known to try a few themselves! It doesn’t end there. Each Good Reasons employee is integral in the process of producing, packaging and the distribution of the treats. Until recently, employees were only responsible for the packaging, but after some practice and natural curiosity, two individuals in particular decided to help the production team with the baking of the treats.
“It’s exciting for me to see the workers so enthusiastic about the work itself. They take such pride in their work and are truly joyful about their accomplishments. That is the biggest reward for me,” says Katz.
Good Reasons™ is still in its infancy stages, but is looking to expand its customer base and retail presence in coming months. Chef Katz has three to four new treat recipes in the works due to debut by the end of this year.
If you’re interested in purchasing treats and learning more, you can go to www.GoodReasons.com, ‘Like’ them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/goodreasons2014 or Follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/goodreasons2014