|(L) Jenkya Gassnola, intern x Hanna Teklu, a graduate of the program and now currently a program assistant- via Morgan McCloy/NPR.|
As many who know with or without a criminal record, once an individual is released from jail/prison, the search for employment is difficult and often rather discouraging considering it’s few and far employers who want to give criminal offenders (no matter the gender) a second chance. Offenders are quickly turned away once the record is mentioned or comes to light. Unfortunately, but understandably, you’re reverted back to criminal activity just to make ends meet; trapped. Bonnie Rice, who served a 5 year drug related prison sentence, did not want to revert back. The bakery was just the place to help her with that.
|(L) Elizabeth Bennett, Director of Partnerships x Nikki Yates, Program participant- via Morgan McCloy/NPR.|
‘Together We Bake’ offers that chance to women who have served time in prison or are currently on probation for their criminal charge. Located in Alexandria, VA, this bakery makes granola, cookies, and kale chips for eateries and Whole Food stores locally. ‘Together We Bake’ trains women in the baking field along while coaching/conditioning these ladies to stray far from their past criminal activities and develop new habits that will drive them to success. Within the program here, women offenders can receive training certificates, which can alleviate some of the stress of finding employment once the program ends. Optimistically, the culinary field offers many careers for these cases. I, personally, can vouch for someone (although they are male) who was released last year and is now making a successful living in culinary. It seems the food industry is, in a sense, is supportive of employing those with a criminal background. It’s reported that 89% of women in the program pass the Serv Safe exam and move forward.
|Colida Johnson, a graduate of the program now program assistant- via Morgan McCloy/NPR.|
In addition, ‘Together We Bake’ offers a resilience training and empowerment classes to help prepare the women on coping with challenges. Also, there are exercises presented on how to communicate effectively with those around them and with prospective employers. With all the teamwork taking place, new friendships can develop. New families. New self-esteem.
Co-founded by Stephanie Wright and Tricia Sabatini in 2012, the duo who were already previously running a successful baking business, decided to combine their expertise and fostered the idea of using baking as a means of empowerment. Pass this info of service on to someone in the area that you know in need. It just may provide them the 2nd chance at life that they are looking for…
S.o. to NPR.
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