Necessity is the Mother of Invention
Whoever uttered the phrase “never underestimate the power of a mother” could have easily been describing Kelly Maffei, Amy Stern and Kris Burbank — all mothers of young adults with disabilities. This trailblazing trio founded the non-profit Team Woofgang organization in 2017 with one mission: To provide meaningful vocational skills training and life-long learning opportunities for transitioned adults with disabilities while increasing community awareness of the need for local employment options among those individuals.
Nearly five year later, and 50 team members strong, Team Woofgang plays an integral role in the Fairfield community. “After high school, the services that helped provide structure abruptly come to an end and oftentimes, these young adults are left behind. For many, it’s like falling off a cliff” states Kelly Maffei. “They crave purpose and have an innate need to contribute to society.” Which, thankfully, is exactly what Team Woofgang provides.
Give the Gift that Gives Twice
Merging the love of dogs with the love of young adults, team members participate in two unique curriculums: production at a facility in Black Rock and a retail store located at 1300 Post Road. Team members participate in production, baking, packaging, marketing, and selling high quality pet toys and dog treats—sweetly named Pupper Nutty Patties—as well as a carefully curated selection of apparel, gifts, and accessories for both pet and non-pet parents. “This positive environment fosters a true sense of independence, elevated self-confidence and an appreciation of community,” explains Maffei.
Lovingly supported by the wings of incredible parents and volunteers, Team Woofgang’s motto is Together Everyone Achieves More! (TEAM) When asked what Maffei is most proud of at Team Woofgang, she emphatically gushed about the fact that each task performed by team members is specifically tailored to each young adults’ interests and capabilities—and never diagnosis specific. Long-time team member, Gwen Smith regards Team Woofgang as her second family. She loves working at the retail store and talking with customers about why people like her can make a difference. “We are not all about disabilities but rather different abilities,” she proudly explains. For more information, please visit https://woofgangco.org/