Giving is an art form. So is baking. It’s no surprise to anyone that bakers are as gifted at creating beautiful pastry or bread as they are at connecting to the communities they serve. Given that bakery arts are a part of the hospitality industry, most bakers are generous souls: Many have gone into the food industry because they love to put a smile on someone’s face.
Today’s bakers are aware that many of their treats are luxury goods, and in some cases, even their most humble of wares, the freshly baked bread loaf, might be out of reach for some. It was humbling to hear stories of bakers who went out of their way to reach out bread banks, to community centres, or even took on an initiative to help out a specific group. Since bakers live to treat people, it was an honour to read the stories from the Jake The Baker Award submissions.
In this issue, you will read about the Sweet Bakery, and the heart-warming story of how that shop lives up to its name. Stacey Bester shares her story of how simple acts like providing food, a shoulder to cry on, and ensuring hygienic needs of children are met through her volunteer work at Why Not. I was inspired by Bester’s story of starting out with little more than a dream and a loan from people who believed in her.
Community involvement is a big part of many baker’s lives, since they treat the people they serve with both delicacies and basic bread, who then share these with their neighbours. Bakeries often hear the town news over a cup of coffee and a cookie, or hear the joyous reason behind the order placed for a celebratory cake. The love that bakers have professed for their neighbourhoods is more than mere lip service. Without the people, there would be no bakery, and good bakeries know that if you get your clients young, you’ll have them for life. But who supports the bakers who do good? Who awards the bakers who make a difference in their community? For that, we have to thank the Jake the Baker Award’s Founding Sponsor, Ardent Mills, and Ireks, the Gold Sponsor, without whom Bakers Journal would be unable to give credit where credit is due. We are honoured to learn about what keeps bakers motivated to donate goods, contribute their time, and help out a stranger. It’s one thing to write a cheque to a good cause, but seeing the change a small donation can make in a person’s life is worth more than the lump sum. Charity work helps invest in the future. When everyone is at their strongest, we all benefit. The added incentive of a tax deduction may be motive enough for some, but for bakers like Bester, being in touch with people and seeing the change means more.
Charitable contributions are more than just a tax deduction: They build communities, Neighbours that feel the love return the favour with word-of-mouth advertising, and more patronage. This means more clients and more revenue. Altruism may be its own reward, but there is a distinct advantage to gaining good PR through works of charity. The Jake the Baker Award helps bakers across North America get the leg up and the PR that their community and bakery need. Furthermore, reading an inspiring story might help spark another idea in a different neighbourhood, or at the very least, give readers something to think about. Sweet Bakery made me think of the basics I often take for granted, and made me wonder if there is a similar initiative in my neck of the woods. As Bester stated in our chat, “we all need a hand up, now and then.” We hope that readers will be inspired by her story, contribute to BRAugust if they can, or do something that will give somebody in need a much needed hand up.
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