Andy’s Dandys Graduates First Class in Richmond

June 10, 2010  
Filed under Business

Andy’s Dandys, a Vermont-made, all natural gourmet pet treat company recently graduated its first class from its flagship store, bakery, and training center on Bridge Street in downtown Richmond.

Owner and founder, Lucie Whiteford of Richmond, and special educator, Lesha Rasco, launched the store in September 2009 to provide premium quality, natural gourmet pet treats for dogs and horses while establishing a certified specialized training program for individuals with unique learning needs. Andy’s was founded by Whiteford in 2008 to provide her son, Andrew, who has Down syndrome, an opportunity to find meaningful employment upon his graduation from high school. Rasco joined the company in 2009.

Rasco conducts classes two days per week. This spring, three students received certificates for their work in the course “From Raw Material to Gourmet Pet Treats.”

Andy’s Dandys is certified by the state of Vermont as a training facility for at risk youth with specialized learning needs. Graduating this spring were, Jordan Willey, Patrick McLeod, and Glen L’Esperance.

According to Rasco, “Many of our students would not have an opportunity to learn a trade in the traditional sense. They want to be employed and employable. Here at Andy’s Dandys we work with the students to meet their unique employment needs.”

Students under Rasco and Whiteford’s employ have a range of atypical strengths and challenges that make finding independent and individualized training and employment difficult.

“I am so proud of what my partner, Lesha, has created with this training program,” said Whiteford. “It makes all the long, baking hours necessary to maintain this business as a viable classroom worthwhile. I love that each part of this business supports and relies on the other. We make treats in order to create cash flow that helps to sustain the facility we use to teach workplace skills, and it’s an actual commercial bakery setting.  And the training program aspect of the business also helps sales, as consumers like knowing that by purchasing our products, they are supporting this program and the people it serves. The synergy is so satisfying.”

Andy’s Dandys are sold at the bakery on Bridge Street in Richmond and at retail shops throughout Vermont and New Hampshire including Speeder and Earl’s, Jiffy Mart Stores, Play Dog Play, Natural Provisions, The Dog and Cat, Keeler’s Bay Variety and A Passion For Pets.

Plans are to expand the store and distribution and to develop a teaching method that can be duplicated in other markets. For more information, visit www.andysdandysvt.com.

 

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