What circumstances brought you to where you were before you joined Together We Bake?
Kanisha: It all started 4 years ago when I was released from Fairfax Detention Center. I had hoped to go to Guest House but wasn’t able to. Fortunately, they helped connect me to other re-entry services. They told me about TWB, I looked up the website and got excited. Unfortunately, I ended up back in a domestic violence situation after that. Fortunately, I am now free from that situation, I am a SURVIVOR. I recently heard from TWB again and knew it was my last chance to be a part of the program, so I went for it!
What inspired you to apply to Together We Bake?
Kanisha: When I saw the website, the first thing I saw was “EMPOWERING WOMEN.” After being in a long-term domestic violence situation, I thought, “Here’s my chance” I knew I could learn from others, to realize that others have had similar difficult situations and challenges in life. I knew I could pick myself up when I fell. I was looking for a program that was almost like Big Brothers/Big Sisters but for adults. TWB sounded like a good fit.
How has Together We Bake changed your perspective on life?
Kanisha: TWB opened my eyes to see that all people no matter what ethnicity, background, or life situation you experience, that everyone goes through things and has problems. It’s important how you move forward and get through the challenges. No one should ever be ashamed of their past. We must always live in our truth. No matter how far you fall, you can always get back up and reach your goal. THE SKY’S THE LIMIT & NEVER LET ANYONE TELL YOU DIFFERENT!!!
Has someone at Together We Bake (a fellow participant, a volunteer, an instructor, etc.) had a particular influence on you?
Kanisha: EVERYONE HONESTLY at TWB, but especially Stephanie, because she wouldn’t give up on me. After 4 years from the first time we made contact, she was very consistent and made me feel like even though we didn’t personally meet, she genuinely cared. Most people after not even a few months would’ve stopped reaching out and assumed that I wasn’t interested. But not Stephanie, she stayed persistent and on case to make sure that I wouldn’t lose out on a chance to be in such a wonderful and loving program.
How would you describe Together We Bake?
Kanisha: TWB is like a breath of fresh air after you’ve been cramped up in a little box with limited air supply. It encourages women to never give up on themselves, to believe in themselves, it helps women empower other women who have been down the same road but came out with a negative attitude as opposed to a positive one.
What do you feel is the most valuable thing Together We Bake does?
Kanisha: TWB helps women gain knowledge, their ServSafe certificate and puts them on the right path to obtain their Food Manager’s License. You get a chance to get a certificate under your belt that will set you apart from other entry-level applicants. And of course, Empowerment, helping us to believe in ourselves even when it’s been hard. They help us know It’s okay to take a chance on yourself.
What is the most valuable thing you learned at Together We Bake?
Kanisha: The job counseling has been very helpful, especially updating my resume. I also found the budgeting lessons really helpful. I also liked True Colors where we learned about personality styles and how to interact best with other types. I learned so many things that will help me in all aspects of life.
Do you have any specific memories of experiences at Together We Bake?
Kanisha: I am really looking forward to finally meeting everyone on test day and graduation! But I would probably say I’m looking forward more or so to graduation so that I can get a chance to see the expression on all their faces after coming so far from where we started 6 weeks ago.
What was the most challenging thing about the program? How did you overcome that challenge?
Kanisha: I would have to say, the hardest part is not being physically together. It’s very challenging to really get a feel of a person and their personality via Zoom or on video period. In-person is always better in my book.
What is something you are proud of that you achieved because of your participation in Together We Bake?
Kanisha: I am proud of my networking skills and ability to get in touch with some really inspiring women. I feel good about myself, I can smile about the past, and I have to let go of the hard feelings. I was able to boost my self-esteem, self-worth, and I feel good about my future. I am proud of my resume! I AM PROUD OF THE WOMAN TWB HELPED ME EVOLVE INTO IN SUCH A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME!!
What advice do you have for women considering applying to Together We Bake?
Kanisha: Ever felt alone, like you have no one to talk to, you’re surrounded by nothing but negative individuals, ready to meet new people looking to change like you? Don’t think about it, just do it! Reach out and go for it! Believe in yourself! Need empowerment, need support, need something to be proud of (certificate, completion of a program)? TWB gives you that!