Tag Archives: kindness matters

Kindness Matters: House of Bread

To break bread is probably one of the oldest human traditions that continues to ignite the spirit of sharing. In the Christian faith, it is symbolic of the Eucharist, or Holy Communion. To make bread is the activity that unites women who are participating in job training sessions offered by the House of Bread, a new non-profit in Roanoke.

The House of Bread was created in January 2017 to help formerly incarcerated women gain skills to strengthen their confidence and hope. Over the course of a six-week session, women learn new skills through hands on training in the Local Environmental Agricultural Project Kitchen (LEAP kitchen located in the West End) and gain spiritual development while baking and selling bread alongside volunteers from the community.

In addition to learning basic kitchen and baking skills, the women in the program receive ServSafe food handler training, develop marketing and customer service skills, and partner one-on-one with mentors who shepherd them through a job search and resume building process. The students are given a $50 weekly educational stipend and are expected to attend a weekly class and sell bread with the organization once a week. They meet weekly with their mentors. Each session culminates with the ServSafe certification exam and a mock interview clinic where students practice their interviewing skills and receive feedback. The first clinic was staffed by attorneys, business leaders, and people in the restaurant industry.

The inaugural session kicked off in October 2017. Most of the first session’s participants were chosen through Transitional Options for Women or Total Action for Progress. Six women began the program, and four graduated, all with ServSafe certifications. Alongside women from the community, the students learned how to bake a variety of breads and sold over 350 loaves, often selling out in an hour.

What was the recipe for this success? The baking skills honed at home and shared in the LEAP kitchen by Lisa Goad (co-founder), the organizational finesse of former teacher and current seminary student Jordan Hertz (co-founder), and the vision of licensed professional counselor and seminary student Jen Brothers (co-founder). Sprinkle in a handful of motivated students, passionate volunteers and mentors, wide-ranging community support, and generous funding from church grants and private donations, and House of Bread was born.

Brothers realistically anticipated some attrition, and it did happen in the case of one student, who relapsed after finding herself in an unsafe living situation. Her mentor did not give up, saying she wouldn’t leave her until she was ready to stand on her own two feet. She connected her mentee with resources to help her regain her footing and start a new job.

Currently in its second session, the House of Bread has big projects on the rise.   Transitional Options for Women, a recent recipient of a Roanoke Women’s Foundation grant, will open a coffee shop this January on 13th Ave. It will be staffed by TOFW residents and House of Bread graduates. A former HOB student and current House Manager at TOFW will manage the shop. HOB plans to rent a space beside the coffee shop to host meetings, hold interviews, and allow for greater connectivity to the neighborhood and its residents.

Brothers wants to hold the graduates together in community and is currently working on organizing weekly “soup nights” where program graduates, volunteers, and friends come together to break bread and share in storytelling and prayers, with local ministers presiding over a simple round table Communion service.

House of Bread fills a unique niche in our community, offering hope to those who may have lost it along the way and the tools to rebuild a life and become a healthy and productive citizen. It also allows for the formation of friendships across neighborhood and socio-economic divides. House of Bread actively seeks volunteers, donations, and customers. To learn more about House of Bread please visit www.houseofbreadroanoke.com.

Written by Kate Ericsson

 

Giving Back: Craftsmen’s Classic

The Craftsmen’s Classic Show at the Berglund Center is the second largest food drive all year for Feeding America Southwest Virginia. The event will take place October 13-15, and offers free admission with a food donation. In years past, the event has brought in thousands of pounds of food for the area. Food banks like Feeding America Southwest Virginia are essential to our community. According to www.faswva.org, “The USDA estimates that 42.2 Americans lived in food insecure households, including 29.1 million adults and 13.1 million children.”

Without that knowledge, it is difficult to imagine that so many of your neighbors could be going hungry. This makes holding donations for admission to events like the Craftsmen’s Classic Show an integral part of helping meet the nutritional needs of families in Southwest Virginia.

In addition to helping out local families, this is a great opportunity to get a head start on your holiday shopping and support artisans at a time of year when every penny counts for small businesses. Nine Craftsmen’s Classics are held annually and throughout the year in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Gilmore Enterprises, Inc. takes producing each event seriously. Every show contains a careful balance of traditional and contemporary works. Ultimately, hundreds of artists and craftsmen from over 20 states are featured. They are juried and selected for originality and creative excellence.

Because these qualities are so important, there is something for everyone at this event. Enjoy new exhibitors and familiar favorites as you browse pottery, fine art, glass, jewelry, baskets, weaving, clothing, furniture, sculpture, photography, wood, and more! The event will also include specialty foods. All items are made by the participating artists and craftsmen. You won’t find any of these items in the “big box” retail stores. Many exhibitors even welcome requests for custom work, allowing them to explore their creativity to create a personalized gift for you or your loved one. Between collectibles, home accessories, and personal treasures for all ages, you have an opportunity to find something for everyone on your list!

Visit www.craftshow.com for more information on this event! We look forward to seeing you there!

Kids & Interior Design in Southeast Roanoke

The story begins with Mike Eaton, who lives in Southeast Roanoke with his family, contacting me about painting the interior of his home. A few days later, Joey Coakley, Bella publisher, is in a car with me driving to Mike’s home. Joey is to be their paint color consultant!

So, is it true you haven’t done any upgrades since you bought your home 9 years ago?
Mike: Yes, with the exception of painting the kids’ rooms, we haven’t done much of anything in the house. And let me tell you it was a long nine years–did you see the hideous purple living room walls? From the Barney-colored living room to the pea green dining room, the house was in desperate need of fresh paint and modern upgrades to truly make it feel like a home.

We bought the house with the intention of updating and painting, but the reality was after we moved here–me, my wife, Armendia and our 10 year old son, Lewis–life became very busy for us and home improvements were put on the back burner. And before you know it 9 years have gone by.

What happened? Let me guess, more children?
Mike: Yes. We started being foster parents. Our first one, Addy, was such a sweetheart. It breaks your heart learning of the environments and experiences these kids have lived through. We have the space and feel compelled to give a home to these children. We ended up adopting Addy.

Since then we have had numerous children stay with us, mostly for a brief period. In December of 2015 we received a call for two-day-old James. To make a long story short we ended up adopting James and his four-year-old brother, Donny. Now our home AND our hearts are full. As a matter of fact our home is so full we are planning on adding an additional master bedroom/bathroom to our home!

What’s it like, fostering children?
Mike: We 100% love it but it can be emotionally hard. Armendia was working outside the home until recently but now she works full-time with the kids. She has the patience of a saint because it can be stressful at times but there are also tremendous amounts of joy with these precious little ones. The children have had rough backgrounds and like with any kids, life isn’t predictable with them. But truly we consider it a blessing and honor to be bringing them into our family. We wish we could have more.

How does someone become a foster parent?
Mike: Start off by contacting your local Department of Social Services. Training consists of nine weeks of PRIDE classes. Basically, boot camp for prospective foster parents. The classes contain a lot of good information. There is tremendous need in the Roanoke Valley for qualified foster parents to provide a safe, loving home to these wonderful children.  

Can I become a foster parent?
Mike: Anyone can! But for you, I recommend adopting a cat or two first to “get your feet wet!”

Tell us a little bit about your background. Are you Roanoke natives?
Mike: Armendia is, but I’m originally from New Jersey. After being stationed in Norfolk for five years with the U.S. Navy we moved to Roanoke to be closer to her family. I was fortunate to get a job as an electrician at Norfolk Southern. Our day to life is very routine. I pack my lunchbox, go to work, and clock in. When the bell rings, I leave and come home to my lovely family in a quiet neighborhood in Southeast Roanoke–just like in the movies!

At the time our budget led us to the Southeast section of Roanoke. We were able to find a bigger home on a smaller budget in the quaint Waverly Place neighborhood.

Moving to the present, you now have a beautifully colored interior for your home. How did you come up with this color combination?
Mike: We knew we needed help! We wanted something timeless, yet trendy and modern. With Joey Coakley Beck’s guidance we now have wonderful new colors that highlight our home’s interior. It truly feels like a new place. The interior is bright and airy where before it seemed dark and cramped. It’s great! Thank you, Joey!

By way of closing, Armendia says, “Please contact me if you have any questions at all about foster parenting. My email is mendieaton@gmail.com

Click here for more information on fostering a child within Roanoke.

Information is also available here for Salem and Roanoke County residents.

 

Interior paint colors:
Living and family rooms: Sterling
Dining room: Fresh Willow
Kitchen: Tinfoil
Trim: Ultra Pure White
Ceilings: Matte White

All paints by Behr Marquee.

Written by River Laker