Just Bakery is a program of Madison-area Urban Ministry, a non-profit dedicated to helping formerly-incarcerated men and women with their readjustment needs, including housing, employment, support groups, connections with family, and more. Just Bakery focuses on the employment component of readjustment; it is a training program that centers on baking, but teaches skills that are widely applicable to any job scenario. It is open to accepting students who may have been affected by the criminal justice system; are homeless; do not have a GED/HSED; or are dealing with other types of situations on their lives.
Students train in three main aspects of baking: academic learning, including math and food safety; hands-on training in the kitchen; and customer service at sales of Just Bakery products. Each session of students lasts for three months. The program began in August of 2013, and is on its twenty-third session of students.
Staff and Volunteer Bios
Carmella became the Program Coordinator of Just Bakery in 2014, when the program was just a year old. She has degrees both in culinary arts and in criminal justice, the perfect combination of skills needed to help Just Bakery succeed. She soon discovered that Just Bakery was a full-time job and more. Carmella supervises the classroom, production, and sales aspects of Just Bakery all simultaneously, as well as case management and outreach. She still makes time to drop off and pick up her son from school every day.
Diana discovered Just Bakery just as it was beginning in August of 2013. It seemed like a perfect fit; she had worked in several different bakeries herself, and held a deep concern for people affected by the criminal justice system. She began volunteering for the program as a math tutor, and soon was hired on as the Baker’s Math instructor. Determined that the students should be familiar with the chemistry and health effects of the ingredients that they would be using in the kitchen, Diana also began teaching Food Science. She developed the curriculum and wrote the texts for both classes, and continues to teach both subjects. She also is the author behind Just Bakery’s blog. Her other hobbies include bike commuting, teach fitness classes, and reading books to her son.
Jaclyn has been volunteering with MUM’s Circles of Support for the last three years and is pleased to now be teaching ServSafe for Just Bakery. She has been working in the restaurant industry for over ten years and is happy she gets to use those experiences to help struggling individuals develop skills to improve their lives. She is concerned about the lack of support people who have been to jail and prison get from the community, and understands that in order to break the cycle, people need to have the tools to get out of it. She’s excited to be a part of the Just Bakery team!
Jim is a retired science and math teacher and a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer having served in both the South Pacific and West Africa. He is part of MUM’s Jail Tutoring Project working with Diana, tutoring in both math and food science, while providing other support where needed. Jim also volunteers at Olbrich Gardens, Second Harvest and with Slow Foods.
Amy started out as a volunteer for Madison Urban Ministry’s (MUM) Family and Reading Connections Program in her junior year of college because she wanted to work with children and families effected by parental incarceration. She is now finishing her final semester as an undergrad at UW-Madison, and one of the last requirements to fulfill for her criminal justice certificate is a field internship. Since she has enjoyed her time volunteering with MUM, she decided to pursue an internship with their program Just Bakery. At Just Bakery she provides employment skills, such as resumes and conviction statements for the students. In her free time she likes to watch comedy movies or go swimming.
Ken first began as a student at Just Bakery in 2015, and continued working in production even after he graduated. Soon he was hired on a permanent production and sales staff member, and in 2017 was promoted to Kitchen Manager. He continues to oversee production and sell Just Bakery products at weekend sales. Ken’s hobbies include listening to music and making people laugh.
Joseph was exonerated after serving 23 years in prison for crimes he did not commit. After his release, he found Madison-area Urban Ministry and got involved with their services. He joined Just Bakery when the former program coordinator was in the process of getting everything setup in the fall of 2013. Joseph started as a volunteer doing sales and now is on the payroll as a sales assistant and production worker.
Phil started at Just Bakery as a student, back in 2013 when the program was in just its first session. Phil very quickly gravitated toward production and sales, and has been a dedicated team member ever since. With his big friendly smile and welcoming attitude, Phil is the face of Just Bakery at our church sales and farmer’s markets.