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Hiring Hoosiers: Free program trains adults with special needs to bake dog treats, learn workplace skills

Posted: 6:00 AM, Feb 26, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-26 07:09:45-05
Buttermilk Biscuits pic.jpeg

Hiring Hoosiers is an initiative from RTV6 that works to connect Hoosiers to employment opportunities, career development resources, training programs and educational paths. Learn more about Hiring Hoosiers and see new stories weekdays at 6 a.m. on RTV6.

INDIANAPOLIS — Families can not always control the cards they're dealt with, and this includes families with children born with a disability. Hiring Hoosiers strives to find opportunities where job skills can be learned in unconventional ways.

A group of bakers with special needs are picking up more than just a mixing spoon with a program called "Buttermilk Mountain."

"We are making dog biscuits, Buttermilk Mountain biscuits," says 27-year-old Adria Schrock.

With hands covered in all the flavors and ingredients to create dog treats, Schrock is a volunteer baker from one of many special needs organizations in the area.

"You are learning how to make new friends each day," explains Schrock.

The Buttermilk Mountain biscuit team sells its tasty treats at local farmer's markets.

"I would say, 'Do you have a dog?' And then I will just advertise with all my heart," says Schrock. "I even sold them to a cat person somehow."

Leading these sous-chefs is 'head baker' Jodi Maslanka.

"Our motto is: Made with pride, not perfection," states Maslanka.

Maslanka started Buttermilk Mountain in January of 2019, a charity with some special meaning behind the name.

"'Maslanka' means 'buttermilk' in polish," explains Maslanka. "I just felt that families with special needs always feel like they are climbing a mountain."

What started as a hobby to raise money for the special needs community, Maslanka wanted to do more, and with Buttermilk Mountain, she can help implement job training tools for her bakers to work outside of her kitchen.

These skills that possibly no one would have ever noticed that 20-year-old Michaela Ouse has.

"Michaela comes in, she makes her biscuits, she goes home," says Maslanka. "She hardly says anything to anyone. She asks me if she could help me sell them, and I thought well you can come to the farmer's markets and sit with me, that is fine. She is a fabulous salesperson, she talks to everyone. You would never know that side of her if she hadn't had that opportunity."

Now Ouse says she wants to eventually work at a dog store because of what she has learned at Buttermilk Mountain with Maslanka.

"I have learned soft skills and stuff like that, I have learned how to talk to people, smile, look at them," says Ouse. "Basically, the soft skills is basically learning the skills for a workplace environment."

All the money raised from the farmer's market sales goes back into purchasing the ingredients and cooking tools. Maslanka says she wants to generate enough funds from their sales so she can hire on some of these volunteer bakers.

Buttermilk's Biscuits will be at the Indy Winter Farmers Market on March 7th from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., then every other Saturday. They will also be a vendor at the Indy Mutt Strut on April 25.

Buttermilk Mountain dog biscuits can be purchased at the following locations:

Uptown Pup
2112 East 54th Street

Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza
9165 Otis Avenue
*order online, pay with PayPal, pick up 1st Monday of the month 4pm - 6pm

Buzzy Coffee Co. 5
120 East Market Street
*order online, pay with PayPal, pick up 2nd Tuesday of the month 11am - 1pm

Learn more on how to get involved with Buttermilk Mountain: http://www.buttermilkmountain.net/.

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