Hello dear friends
My Place is entering our fifth year, and there have been many memorable events and milestones, including a two-year residency program for at-risk and homeless youth, and Gen Y – a youth center to accommodate a variety of support services for the benefit of the community’s youth.
Some of the accomplishments of the young people include:
- high school graduations
- college entrances
- jobs and military service
- establishment of their own community service programs
- most of all, transitioning their lives toward independent living
The latest enterprise of My Place is the gluten-free bakery, My Gluten-Free Bread Company, a two-fold social and community service program. The bakery is a commercially driven, youth-inspired enterprise and national training center* located at 409 7th Ave. in Hendersonville in the heart of western North Carolina. The CSA (Celiac Sprue Association) certified bakery, opened in March 2012, offers a NC licensed, pre-apprenticeship program for at-risk and homeless youth ages 18-23. As part of the one year baking program, apprentices also complete high school and entrepreneurship training, making them eligible to pursue micro loans to start home-based businesses in the future, in line with other marketable skills and talents they may demonstrate. This is the nation’s first gluten-free training center.
Not only are we serving the needs of at-risk youth, we are serving the needs of hundreds of people who are gluten-intolerant, by offering tasty and healthful products. Our recipes were developed with the help of local celiac groups and experienced bakers. In addition to our own bakery retail outlet, our products are carried in nine Ingles stores (a local family-owned food chain), several restaurants and health food stores.
Now we are in the process of acquiring transitional housing with 6 apartments, where youths can take the next step toward independent living by managing their own job and financial responsibilities.
We want to express our deep gratitude to you for your support, generosity and compassion, helping to make our projects possible.
We still face many challenges. Like all start-ups and non-profit service organizations, we have many needs, especially financial resources and volunteers.
A brief update newsletter is attached. Also attached is our invitation to join us for a benefit event on November 15. See the flier for details. We hope to see you there!
Ven. Pannavati, President
Ven. Pannadipa, Vice President
Michael Akers, Executive Director
Jay Wilson, General Manager, Bakery
*The My Place social profit and business model is patterned after the famous Greyston Foundation, a best practices model for social entrepreneurship developed by Bernie Glassman, founder of Zen Peacemakers. We don’t hire youth to bake bread, we bake bread to hire youth – and to fund needed social services for this invisible segment of the mountain community!