What circumstances brought you to where you were before you joined Together We Bake?
Sara: I would say for me growing up wasn’t the easiest, but I overcame things others wouldn’t make it out of. I grew up with my mom and step dad, and I had an ok childhood. I dealt with a lot of depression and anxiety for most of my childhood and adult life. I was always the black sheep of the family, the outcast. I was molested and raped when I was young and thought nobody would believe me because I was always “lying” about something, so I kept a lot to myself. I would bottle everything up until I broke down. I have gotten a lot better about opening up and letting things out.
Later on, I moved and went to another high school in another city, where I didn’t know anyone. I missed everybody I grew up with, and I had to make new friends. I eventually found out about my real dad and that I was a product of rape. I had met a boy and, soon after, started having sex. I began getting in trouble and skipping school. At one point, I found myself in a stolen car with him, and, because I “liked” him or “loved” him, I took the rap for the car. Not too long after, I dropped out of school and tried to do Votech, a vocational school. When that didn’t workout, I became homeless. One thing led to another, and I found myself in New York.
I felt like everything and everyone was against me at this point and didn’t know who to trust or believe. I met someone else up there, and when that relationship didn’t work so I came back to Virginia. I did ok for a few years, but then I started experiencing a lot of depression. I wanted to give up, so I started drinking heavily. It was as if I was going through a midlife crisis at 25. I began drinking every day after work. I would eventually catch my first DUI, then my second, and then, when I was no longer bondable, I caught my third. I spent 11 months in jail for that DUI.
When I got out, I was doing so well. I was working and going to church. I got baptized on my birthday, and I thought everything was fine, until Covid hit. I started losing hours at work and everything was shutting down. I started feeling like I was failing again. I knew it wasn’t my fault, but I just felt like I could never move forward. So, I started drinking again. I had a rental car at the time and caught yet another DUI. I served a year for that DUI, and, after, found myself at The Friends of Guest House, who referred me to TWB. I was excited to start and knew it would help me and motivate me to do better.
What inspired you to apply to Together We Bake?
Sara: I wanted to better my life and my future doing something I love and something I can use in everyday life.
How has Together We Bake changed your perspective on life?
Sara: TWB showed me that I can do whatever I set my mind to. I used to give up on things when it got hard. When I used to study for tests or tried reading to learn, I would struggle understanding and comprehending. TWB made sure I made it to the end and made sure I finished. That’s when I knew I could do it.
Has someone at Together We Bake (a fellow participant, a volunteer, an instructor, etc) had a particular influence on you?
Sara: All of Together We Bake!
How would you describe Together We Bake?
Sara: They are great and are always there for us no matter what. I have never met a group of women that are dedicated to empowering other women, making sure we made it to the end.
What do you feel is the most valuable thing Together We Bake does?
Sara: Everyone was always there, they were very understanding, and I loved that so much. I never felt out of place, and I felt comfortable. They would go out of their way to do anything for you to make sure you were in class on time, they’d come get you from your P.O. visit. I just love all of the women here and everything they do for us.
What is the most valuable thing you learned at Together We Bake?
Sara: To never give up. Someone will always be there for you every step of the way, even when you feel like you’re alone.
Do you have any specific memories of experiences at Together We Bake?
Sara: Everything, the laughs, the morning meetings, the baking classes.
What was the most challenging thing about the program? How did you overcome that challenge?
Sara: I am such a shy and nervous person, especially speaking out loud. I still am, but I know I overcame a lot of that fear. I am more confident, and I am still growing.
What is something you are proud of that you achieved because of your participation in Together We Bake?
Sara: I learned and gained more while I earned my servsafe certification.
What advice do you have for women considering applying to Together We Bake?
Sara: It will change your outlook on things. Everything and everyone are like family, they make you feel comfortable, and they push you to do better without pushing you too hard. I felt such a relief coming here every morning and such a breath of fresh air. I would definitely recommend TWB to women who feel they can’t do anything and want to do better.
I appreciate and thank all of Together We Bake for everything they have done for me, and all the women here. They will do anything to make sure we are happy, and they don’t give up on us, plus they care about our future.