Cooking up opportunity with cookies

Joe Blundo of The Columbus Dispatch recently wrote about a partnership between ARC Industries and Cheryl’s Cookies.

Albert Brown works in a bakery designed to be gluten-free and opportunity-rich.

He’s a developmentally disabled adult who is getting work experience and a paycheck through a partnership between Cheryl’s Cookies and ARC Industries. ARC, a nonprofit workforce-development organization overseen by the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities, had an idle kitchen at its West facility, 250 W. Dodridge St.

Cheryl'sCheryl’s, the Westerville-based cookie-maker, wanted a facility where it could produce a new line of gluten-free cookies. Last year, the two teamed up: Cheryl’s rents the kitchen and employs ARC participants, who work side by side with Cheryl’s employees.

On a recent weekday morning, Brown, 27, was washing pans and loading cookies onto trays in the kitchen, which spans about 1,200 square feet. “It’s great,” he said. “I like to bake. I bake at home.”

The adults who attend ARC programs often need help in adjusting to the demands and pace of a workplace, said ARC supervisor Nick Gulyassy. Some, for example, stay up late at home, not realizing that their efficiency the next day is affected by a lack of sleep. Having the bakery in the ARC building makes it easier to address such problems while still providing real-life experience.

“We’re in the best of both worlds,” Gulyassy said.

Read the full article on the Dispatch website.

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