Friday, November 25, 2011

Baking a Difference: Hattie's Bakery

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How could you possibly not fall in love with a bakery that celebrated it's one year anniversary with a humongous chocolate bar? I'm not sure it's possible. Which is one of the many reasons I'm falling in love with Hattie's Bakery!

Who was the inspiration for Hattie's Bakery? 
In 1961, when Hattie Larlham brought little Alice into her home, children with developmental disabilities were not expected to live long. As Hattie’s work improved the quality of life for these children, they lived longer and thrived. Our organization has grown along with these children. The mission of Hattie Larlham, the organization, is to provide comfort, joy and achievement to people with developmental disabilities and their families. As our children grew, fulfilling this meant finding ways for people with developmental disabilities to find meaningful employment and be a part of their communities. It was this need that inspired Hattie Larlham to open The Bakery at Hattie’s CafĂ© & Gifts as well as our other social enterprises.

When and where did you get started?
We officially opened on Sept. 21, 2010 at 209 South Main Street in Akron, Ohio. The Bakery just celebrated its first anniversary by creating and sharing Akron’s biggest chocolate bar with the community.

How does a bakery make a difference? 
Employees work with job coaches to develop essential job skills. The responsibilities of each employee vary based on the individual, but range from baking, general food preparation, decorating cakes and cookies, making beverages, working the cash register, assembling gift baskets and more. These jobs equip our employees with much more than traditional work skills; they gain self-confidence and often enhance their social skills. 

There was one employee who started out very shy, making beverages. Now, she is the assistant to the bakery manager. When the manager is out of the office, she can fill gift basket orders to exact specifications. She also trains other employees in making beverages. Her personal and professional growth has been so tremendous that she now feels independent enough to get her own apartment!

What keeps people coming back for more?
One of our standout items is a German chocolate cake with frosting made of real, melted German chocolate. In addition to baked goods, the bakery has a storefront that serves ice cream, fair trade coffee and lunches featuring salads, sandwiches, wraps and more. Our employees also produce all of our gift baskets that are sold across the country and can be purchased online.

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