Leora found out about Sunflower Bakery through the staff at College Living Experience. She really hadn’t done much baking previously. During her time at Sunflower, she excelled in using all heavy equipment and culinary tools, mastering baking skills and methods. She was exemplary at creating beautiful platters and packing products for purchase. Throughout her training, she was a wonderful example of professionalism and determination. Afer Leora graduated from Sunflower, she went to Tag Team Kitchen.
Living in Anacostia, it was a challenge for Dishon to attend training at Sunflower every day. He said, “I am a very hard worker and I will make sure to get there.” Indeed, every day, Dishon took 1 bus and two different trains, spending 1-1/2 hours commuting each way. He has said it was worth it, because in addition to learning about pie crusts, frosting and so much more, he learned that “It’s okay to ask for help if you don’t know what you need to do. Dishon is now employed at District Doughnut.
As part of the Sunflower Pastry Arts training, Paul became proficient at cutting bars, such as brownies, lemon and raspberry and blondies. Since finishing the program, Paul has been working at Carmen’s Italian Ice where he has worked on everything from cutting bars to packing flavors of homemade Italian Ice for customers and special events.
Christian learned about Sunflower Bakery from the staff at College Living Experience. He had participated in Independent Living Skills classes there and had done some cooking that he enjoyed. At Sunflower, Christian learned to use heavy equipment, such as 20- and 60-quart mixers. The areas where he grew most were in his physical skills and baking techniques, cracking eggs one-handed, filling piping bags, rolling sugar cookies and finishing bars evenly with an offset spatula for baking. He’s still not sure if he wants to be a clerk or to bake. We will stay tuned to find out!
Vicky visited Sunflower Bakery with a Sunday activity group from Main Street who had the opportunity to make some products in our kitchen. She had enjoyed baking and decided to apply to Sunflower’s Pastry Arts Training Program. She hoped to learn to make a variety of cakes and cupcakes. She also wanted to experience what it would be like to make different pastries.
Drew originally participated in Sunflower’s Summer Teen Exposure Program while still in high school. After graduation, he came back to Sunflower wanting to learn to make cupcakes, cookies, muffins and cakes. He used the commercial mixers with ease and became proficient in using all the culinary tools. His specialty was making sugar cookie dough, which he then rolled, cut, and beautifully decorated. During his training, he passed his ServSafe Food Handler’s exam to become a certified Food Handler.
Ethan first started with Sunflower in the Summer Teen Exposure Program and then moved to Pastry Arts. One of the most valuable skills Ethan learned while at Sunflower is the importantace of timing in baking and how you can’t be too early and you can’t be too late. One of Ethan’s specialties is making rolled sugar cookies. Ethan has recently started employment at the Pretzel Bakery in Potomac.
Maia notes that Sunflower accommodated her need to help her with focus and made the learning process a lot more fun. She credits her chef instructors for her success and the Sunflower experience increased her self confidence. Maia is one of three Sunflower graduates working at the Pretzel Bakery in Potomac.
Julia has always been artistically inclined and participated in Sunflower’s Summer Teen Experience while still in high school. She thought graphic design would be her career, but she said, she “always loved drawing desserts. Coming to Sunflower Bakery was cool, because I learned to bake from scratch. I always wanted to do royal iced cookies.” She is looking forward to getting a baking job to use the skills she has learned, and the extra touches like the chefs taught her with the rainbow cakes.
Josh came to Sunflower to pursue his culinary passion. He first learned to cook with his mother and grandmother as a child. His training at Sunflower met his expectations and he hopes others will come into the program. Josh just started employment at the Pretzel Bakery in Potomac where he is learning the menu and enjoying his work.
Reese came to Sunflower interested in understanding and learning the science involved in baking. During the time spent in the Pastry Arts program, Reese also grew in confidence and started discovering how they learned the best. Reese also confirmed that they had a thirst for education and higher learning. Now having finished their program, they look to use their skills to obtain a part-time job and furthering their education.
Rachel Hamm loves baking and heard about Sunflower from her career coach. She particularly enjoys the hands-on aspects. She has learned that in a professional kitchen, you have to “be fast and get things done, can’t dilly-dally.” She sees baking as her career and looks forward to baking a variety of many different products.
Kai was referred to Sunflower by his DORS counselor. He has indicated that his Pastry Arts training was pretty much what he expected. He learned to be less scared of ovens as well as different techniques when it came to baking. Important to him was gaining some semblance of time management. He says, “It’s not exactly there, but coming!” He still has no idea of what job he wants to pursue, but he definitely wants to have a job and “function as a member of society.”
Dahneesha first learned about Sunflower while driving by, on the way to her Grandfathers. Dahneesha had an idea of what working in a bakery would entail, seeing as her sister works in a bakery. Dahneesha gained more than knowledge at Sunflower, Dahneesha found her “kitchen voice.” Dahneesha will continue to use Sunflower’s Job Services, to help find the job, to begin the next chapter of her life.
Jahi’s mom found out about Sunflower through the website. He found the training to be much more “cohesive” than he expected. It helped that the steps for each project were broken down. It made it easier to learn! While at Sunflower, he enjoyed cutting bars, making challah and all sorts of bread. Jahi will take with him the skills he learned baking challah and the wise counsel he got from the chefs. He would love to get a job working in a Bakery in NY.
Juan joined as part of the Teen program and is now graduating from the Hospitality program. Juan has worked at both the Bakeshop and Cafe and has enjoyed learning to make coffee drinks and working with customers. After Sunflower, he hopes to get a job as a greeter or host at a local restaurant.
Jessica Lipsher came to Sunflower for the Hospitality program. Her goals were to improve her customer service and retail/hospitality skills so she could get an additional job. She learned all of Sunflower’s products, was able to answer questions about them, and was friendly and upbeat. As part of her training, she passed the ServSafe Food Handler’s test.
Josh first came to Sunflower Bakery as a teen in our Summer Teen Exposure Program. After that experience, he decided he would like to try Sunflower’s Hospitality training program in our new facility on Halpine Road. He was an inaugural participant in that program. Now, Josh works at the Hebrew Home. As part of his work, he delivers packages to residents at Revitz house and plays games with the residents. He has received lovely feedback from the head of activities at Revitz, indicating how happy the residents are to have Josh’s assistance!
Noah joined the hospitality training program because it looked interesting and he wanted to learn new pastry products. The most enjoyable experience Noah had at Sunflower was greeting customers to make them happy. During his downtime at work, Noah is constantly cleaning and restocking our display cases with cold beverages or delicious pastries. After leaving Sunflower he wants a job in hospitality talking to customers, greeting them, and making them feel welcomed.
Webb joined Sunflower to improve his customer service skills and to maintain a job that can turn into a career. After Sunflower, Webb got a job at the Adventure Park in Sandy Spring as a Park Monitor. In his position, he is responsible for ensuring that each guest has a safe, enjoyable, and memorable experience.
Haydee was encouraged to apply to Sunflower by her Maryland Department of Rehabilitation Services counselor. Haydee is grateful to her Sunflower instructors because they not only taught her many things, but taught her in ways that she learns best. After graduation, Haydee is excited to find a job where she can use all the customer service skills she learned in the Hospitality program.
Jessica came to Sunflower because she needed help with skills to find a job in her area of interest. Working on her communications skills has been the most valued aspect of her training at Sunflower. She wants to work with animals and hopes to find employment with a business that cares for dogs and cats with the goal of eventually working at a vet or animal hospital.
Tierney chose Sunflower because she was interested in the training and wanted to work on her communication skills and self-advocacy. Her most valued moments at Sunflower have been what she learned in the classroom setting and applying that knowledge to the Bakeshop where she works with customers. After Sunflower, Tierney is interested in working as a restaurant hostess or in front desk position serving customers.
Joe is looking for a career in the hospitality industry. He has gained the skills on how to best deal with customers and is looking to hone his skills in the Bakeshop. Joe is looking for a front-of-house job in a hotel.
Ale came to Sunflower to meet new people and to be assisted with finding employment. He wants a job in a customer service role in a cafe setting. Ale has started working in the Bakeshop and is learning how to upsell and working on his customer service and communication skills.
Toby wanted to gain work experience by working in our bakeshop and he originally came to Sunflower to find a job. He would like a job in a library/bookstore setting. Stop by for a pastry or coffee as Toby would love to wait on you in the Bakeshop.