‘Pawing it forward’ and teaching job skills

What can be better than young people, dogs, meaningful work and paying it forward? For Brewhaus Dog Bones, paying it forward becomes “paw it forward.”

Jessica, left, measures ingredients, spent brewery grains, with the help of Bobbie Perry, an instructional assistant.
Jessica, left, measures ingredients, spent brewery grains, with the help of Bobbie Perry, an instructional assistant.

Not long ago, Lisa Graham visited San Diego and learned that dog bones, pizza dough, pretzels and bread could be made using whole-spent grains from the beer brewing process.

About a year ago, she started Brewhaus Dog Bones in New Richmond, a company which helps young adults with disabilities develop vocational skills and have fun, meaningful project-based learning opportunities.

The perfect storm of Graham’s thoughts became Brewhaus. Brewhaus Dog Bones are small-batch, hand-crafted, oven-baked treats made from whole grains sourced from local breweries.

At Sycamore High School, Esther Adams, the intervention specialist, talks endlessly about her days with the students. They even partner with the Teaching Profession Academy at Sycamore. Adams said, “Students become part of something bigger than themselves, working in a real business. They take ownership and produce a good product.”

She said she sees students blossom on a daily basis, because they have taken on specific roles in the kitchen. Not only do students make the dog bones, but they are involved in invoices, loading, delivery and sales. They are not stuck in the kitchen. They get to see their product to completion, and the interaction with vendors and breweries is a priceless life skill.

An important new endeavor is a partnership with Clovernook Center For The Blind and Visually Impaired. Brewhaus and the center will provide paid employment for participants, a beginning to another business model using brewery grains.

Graham’s passion has become a meaningful reality for students all over the Cincinnati area. Her goal is to eventually have a freestanding “Brewhaus Bakery” — integrated within a brewery — and a “Brewhaus Brewbus,” a food truck for dogs, that supports paid employment for very special adults.

This story originally appeared in The Salt Magazine.

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