On Friday, March 10th, after years of planning, fundraising, and construction, Just Bakery officially opened its new location at 1708 Theirer Road. What a day for Just bakery! For the first time in its 3 ½ years of existence, the program’s hands-on training and classroom training can take place in the same building. Up until this point, students’ academic learning took place at Lakeview Lutheran Church, who very generously opened their doors and made us feel at home. For their hands-on training, students went to the FEED Kitchens two miles away, where they got their hands in the dough and learned how to operate commercial baking equipment. Although this system worked, Just Bakery felt spread out and decentralized: we didn’t have a home base. That is why we are so thrilled about the new building: it allows production crew and teaching staff to see each other on a regular basis, and students can go to the same location for their hands-on training as for their academics.
By opening day, the new place was starting to look like home, thanks to the hard work of all of our staff. David and Ken, our production crew, had spent the week preparing the kitchen: unpacking our brand new sheet pans, organizing measuring cups, and labeling all the flour and sugar bins with plastic-protected name tags. Jaclyn and Diana, the teaching staff, had moved all the furniture and teaching materials from our old room in Lakeview Lutheran church and set it up in the new classroom. File cabinets, bookcases, computers, jars of pens and pencils, and the largest coffeemaker in the world all had to find their place in the new space. Jolene and Jim, Just Bakery’s dedicated volunteer tutors and all-round classroom helpers, helped sift through the multitude of books and files and give the room a touch of style. And of course, Carmella, Just Bakery’s program coordinator, had been living and breathing the set-up of this new building for months, and was busily overseeing the final details of its unveiling.
All this was in our minds as we prepared to officially open the building. A small crowd gathered outside to door to Just Bakery’s hallway, where a wide red ribbon was tacked across the door. Linda, MUM’s executive director, gave an introductory speech, followed by speakers from MG&E and United Way, both funders of the project. Jolene and Diana had both brought their baby sons, who were intimidated by the crush of people but raised their little voices in excitement. When it was finally time to snip the ribbon, a team of people—including David and Ken—grabbed scissors and all cut it together. It was official—the building was open!
Three days later, we added the final touch: students. Session 23 of Just Bakery, the first class to occupy the new space, began.
…by Diana G…