Disability services and employment nonprofit ECHO held a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday morning, for its latest venture: a bakery where people with disabilities are cooking up handmade dog treats with natural, healthy ingredients.
The ingredient list on the Barkery’s three flavors of dog biscuits is short and simple. That’s because they are made by mixing them, rolling out the dough, cutting out the shapes, baking the dough, and packing it all up all in the Barkery’s kitchen in Ashburn.
It is the latest business venture by the nonprofit CEO Paul Donohue says is dedicated to “the dignity of a paycheck.” One of ECHO’s programs helps place people with disabilities at supervised jobs around the county, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of those sites had to close down.
“We’ve bene through a lot these past 18 months, all of us,” Donohue said during the Sept. 10 event. “… So many of our community worksites have shut down and have remained shut down, and it was time. We had to have something to get employment turned on again.”
Eventually, he said, the Barkery is expected to recoup ECHO’s investment and become a source of revenue for the nonprofit.
The biscuits are available at Whole Foods stores under the name “Just Rewards for Dogs,” and through a home delivery service under the name “ECHO Barkery” from EchoBarkery.org.
Barkery employees and ECHO leaders were joined by county government representatives and business and nonprofit leaders for the ribbon cutting. The Barkery is at 20630 Ashburn Road, #196 in Ashburn.ECHO was established in 1974 and began serving adults with disabilities in 1975 by offering vocational training, community integration, and comprehensive disability employment.