ACADIANA, La. (KLFY)– One local organization is helping individuals with special needs and their families with fun activities and a tasty treat.

The Dreams Foundation of Acadiana provides those with disabilities resources, education, activities, management and services.  

The foundation started as a way to help people with special needs create a full life for themselves. Donielle Watkins, the director of the foundation, said the idea came from navigating life with her son who also has special needs.

“My son wanted to play baseball, and then he wanted to do basketball,” Watkinds said. “Then people started calling me saying ‘Hey, can we do art?’ It’s just compounding to know we have 15 different activities we offer.”

After providing a safe space for them to be active, the desire to work and make their own money came about.These homemade meat and spinach artichoke pies are sold in local groceries stores across Acadiana–made with love by employees of the Dreams Foundation of Acadiana.

Lexi Hargroder is a 22-year-old who works at the meat pie shop two days a week. She enjoys the independence and the family she’s created over the years. 

“It’s nice to have friends,” Hargroder said. “They are practically family now.”

Hargroder said living with autism does not prevent her from operating successfully in the world, and she’s thankful the Dreams Foundation of Acadiana offers a safe space for her to be herself.

“I am autistic. A lot of people judge autistic people on their looks,” Hargroder said. “They say “Oh, she’s not smart’. I was even told in high school that I wouldn’t make it through home school because I’m autistic, but little did they know I graduated high school.”

The meat pies are sold at several local grocery stores across Acadiana. You can even purchase them from their food truck and factory.