NEWS
LIFESTYLE
FUNNY
WHOLESOME
INSPIRING
ANIMALS
RELATIONSHIPS
PARENTING
WORK
SCIENCE AND NATURE
About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy
© GOOD Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Bakery guides adults with learning differences toward fulfilling careers through special program

For over a decade, Sunflower Bakery has made a lasting difference in the lives of over 550 teens and young adults with learning differences.

Bakery guides adults with learning differences toward fulfilling careers through special program
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Sunflower Bakery

Over 500 teens and young adults have made their "sweet" dreams come true thanks to Sunflower Bakery in Rockville. The non-profit social enterprise was founded by a group of women determined to help and train young people with learning differences with skill-based, on-the-job training. For over 15 years, they have helped provide inclusive, one-of-a-kind professional training opportunities in the Metro DC area that combine technical hard skills with soft skills of employment readiness in Pastry Arts, Hospitality and related industries.


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sunflower Bakery (@sunflower.bakery)


 

Jordan Scott-Geason credits the six-month intensive training program at the bakery for her baking skills. The 21-year-old's favorites to make are chocolate chip cookies and key lime cheesecake. "We are a bakery, but we're more than that," executive director Jody Tick told PEOPLE. The 52-year-old has enjoyed watching former students flourish in their fields.



 

"It's been amazing to see the transformation of our students," shared Tick, who has a son with special needs. "A student that comes in is not the same person who leaves. You see how people blossom, how they become more independent, their self-esteem increases. That is just an amazing thing to see."


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sunflower Bakery (@sunflower.bakery)


 

The bakery first started at Congregation Beth Shalom's kitchen in Potomac, Maryland, and gifted baked goods to local synagogues but now has outlets in two other places: Sunflower Bakery in Rockville, Maryland, and Sunflower Café in Bethesda. They offer a 6-month program that trains people on how to work in a commercial kitchen as well as bake using recipes. The Pastry Arts Workforce Development Program has classes where they learn to make chocolate chip cookies, before moving on to cake pops, lemon bars, muffins, sticky buns, kolache, bundt cake, breads, challahs and more.


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sunflower Bakery (@sunflower.bakery)


 

They also have a hospitality training program focusing on customer service skills, such as filling online orders and serving customers at the bakery's café. The Hospitality Workforce Development Program helps people learn how to take orders, package and ship online orders, manage inventory and work in a fast-paced retail environment. Youngsters who are unsure of dedicating six months of their life to this program can always opt for the bakery's four-day intensive offering for high school students to get a feel of the course and later join after graduation.

"We can't change the world, but we can help people change themselves and grow and transform," said one of the founders, Sara Portman Milner. "We give them a chance to be the best they can be." After the programs, students go on to grab jobs at bakeries and grocery stores, pet stores and amusement parks. "Many times you hear a student say, 'I can do this!' or they walk in and say, 'This changed my life,'" Milner shared. "All their lives, they heard what they couldn’t do, and now they can see and experience what they can do."



 

Scott-Geason, the bakery student, said the program "helped me get better." "The first time I made cookies, I did mess up," she revealed. "But I kept going. I kept remaking the recipe. And now I feel like that's the easiest thing for me to make." At first, she was reserved and shy, but now she has become confident and advocates for herself. Calling it "a safe place for me," she added: "It did a lot for me. I wouldn't be where I am without Sunflower Bakery."


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sunflower Bakery (@sunflower.bakery)


 

More Stories on Scoop