What circumstances brought you to where you were before you joined Together We Bake?
Shelly: I had given up on myself and life and ended up in jail 7 months pregnant and having to give birth to my daughter while being shackled to the hospital bed. I was lucky enough to be granted a jail sentence to The Friends of Guest House program, and there I saw a pen with Together We Bake. Intrigued I looked it up on Google and found their website and learned that it was a program that sounded like something I would def be interested in. I filled out the application right then and remember reaching out to Stephanie after a few weeks. That is when I learned their Spring 2021 class would be starting soon, and I was so happy to hear. I was even more excited when I found out I was accepted!
What inspired you to apply to Together We Bake?
Shelly: The fact that they willingly want to work with women whom society had given up on. They offered so much from classes on learning about computers, emotions, negotiation, finances, and of course, Rouxbe (online culinary school) hands-on baking experience, getting ServSafe certified and learning how they bake their own products and ship them.
How has Together We Bake changed your perspective on life?
Shelly: They have helped me realize that I can achieve my dreams, I am not a lost cause and my life has a purpose. They are so supportive of all of us and help in any way they can. It makes me want to live better and give back what has been so freely given to me.
Has someone at Together We Bake (a fellow participant, a Volunteer, an instructor, etc.) had a particular influence on you?
Shelly: All of the ladies at TWB are phenomenal! They go out of their way to help each of us any way they can. Stephanie would even go out of her way to come pick me and another girl up from probation when we had to go in for a random drug screen, so we wouldn’t be late to class.
How would you describe Together We Bake?
Shelly: Life changing! I feel like I now have support in making my dreams become reality. I have a new family that doesn’t judge me for my past but pushes me forward to better my life not only for me but for my kids as well.
What do you feel is the most valuable thing Together We Bake does?
Shelly: Empowering. I have never felt this much support and encouragement from anybody or anything. They truly care and want to help each woman that wants to be a part of the TWB family.
What is the most valuable thing you learned at Together We Bake?
Shelly: Giving back, doing something for one another, learning that I am me and that is perfectly fine.
Do you have any specific memories of experience at Together We Bake?
Shelly: Still being made felt a part of the group when I ended up getting COVID and couldn’t attend classes in person; I still felt like I was there with them and that I was missed.
What was the most challenging thing about the program? How did you overcome that challenge?
Shelly: Learning to be vulnerable with people I didn’t know. There were 4 other women in the program that were also part of The Guest House Program, not letting that stop me from being me and speaking what I needed to share. I don’t like to let people in, especially people I’m close to, let alone strangers. They made me feel heard and accepted which made all the difference for me.
What is something you are proud of that you achieved because of your participation in Together We Bake?
Shelly: Passing my ServSafe, finishing the Program, making connections with some pretty incredible women!
What advice do you have for women considering applying to Together We Bake?
Shelly: DO IT! You will not regret this. This program is like nothing I have experienced in my life. I wish they had an in-house type program because I would have definitely wanted to do that. TWB is nothing short of amazing. I can not say enough good things about it and how lucky I am that I got to be a part of it.
I just want to say a huge Thank-You to the team. You all are fantastic! The kindness, love, and care you all show all of us does not go unnoticed!