NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It is a bakery unlike any other run by a New York nonprofit.
As CBS New York’s Scott Rapoport reports, it’s the people who work in the bakery, and the helping hand they are receiving, that is most unique.
A bakery in a nondescript building in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is cooking up something sweeter and more ambitious than the fresh pastries: they are creating hope.
“It’s truly a blessing,” Derrick said.
Served daily at the bakery, but not seen on the menu, is a sense of purpose, opportunity and employment for those society has forgotten.
All of the employees are homeless or were formerly living on the streets, and many are former criminals.
“Probably back in jail, or broke and penniless,” said Derrick when asked where he would be without the bakery.
It is their chance for a more productive and fulfilling life, and the chance to learn a culinary trade.
Everyone at the bakery is from the Doe Fund –- a shelter that houses and feeds the homeless in New York City and runs the bakery.
Peter Besent, a former drug dealer and gang member, turned his life around through his love of cooking which he discovered at the bakery. He is now the head baker and teaching what he’s learned through a culinary arts training program.
“Me and these men are cut from the same cloth,” Bessent said. “We all come from the same place. That’s a struggle.”
Currently, there are 30 people training under Bessent. In the seven years of the bakery’s existence, more than 350 people have graduated from the program.
“This means the world to me right here,” said Curtis, a recent graduate.
The treats whipped up at the bakery are packaged and sold at farmers’ markets in Brooklyn and Harlem.
The Doe Fund said the idea for a bakery, back in 2009, was a natural. The nonprofit already operates a kitchen to feed those who live in the facility.