Social Change, Powered by your Appetite

December 21, 2017

Written by our very own Wedding Floral Designer Nancy Kierulf

Our charity partner for December is Blue Sky Bakery. This is has been an especially meaningful month for me, as I’ve had a deep connection with both flowers and baking for as long as I could remember. My beautiful Mom has been my inspiration, and as a Pastry Chef, her love of baking trickled down to me.

A few years ago, she passed away unexpectedly.

That tragedy prompted me to sit back and really think about my future. What would make me happy? How can I honor her memory and still live for myself? All of these questions and more led me to follow my dreams and finally pursue my passion for floral design. I worked hard and started from the bottom, washing buckets and processing boxes and boxes of flowers at a small shop. Holidays, weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, all of these special events I cringed at the thought of doing without my mom there, but was so elated that I could create something beautiful for someone else to enjoy and celebrate. That’s how she felt with her baking. Her warm cookies matched her love for you, and you felt it in every bite.

I think about how hard life can be for someone without that love and support. Having that for 26 years was a blessing, and I continue to grow daily all of because of what she taught me. Blue Sky Bakery fills that void for so many of our homeless and at-risk youth here in Chicago. They offer their help by simply giving them a chance.

Unfortunately, most of these youth face everyday challenges that deters them from stable employment, including unstable housing, incomplete education, and lack of work experience. The Blue Sky Employment Program is a twelve-week program that offers supportive employment at Blue Sky Bakery & Café. It teaches the youth valuable skills and experience to help them sustain and support themselves and their future. The youth learn to cook and bake, while maintaining a sanitary work environment. They also work one on one with customers by delivering catering orders and customer service while developing professional skills that will help them in the future.

Youth meet each week with the bakery’s social worker to address issues such as professional communication, time management, conflict resolution, and diversity. They also receive assistance updating their resumes, practicing interview skills and seeking long-term employment.

The best part is, their program doesn’t end after twelve weeks. After each youth finishes the program, Lisa and the other staff work with them to secure a job that will help them continue to grow all of the skills they’ve learned thus far. Continuing to support the success in our youth is just one of the many ways we can help them to establish a successful future. It’s an honor to be associated with companies that want to invest in our younger generation and their future.

Photo by @Blue_Sky_Bakery

Photo by @ZainahHaider