Today we invited one of our most prolific Grommet-spotters, Julia Elmer, to write about an organization she cares deeply about: Bake Me Home. Julia describes herself as an "ideas-obsessed, animal-loving Daily Grommet fan who believes in the power of social entrepreneurship and Citizen Commerce." She often brings us stories about products and businesses she believes should be Grommets - and she's good at it. Really good. She introduced us first to Night Owl Paper Goods, then to Chivas Skin Care ... and we always look forward to hearing about her new discoveries.
So we asked Julia if she'd like to interview the founders of Bake Me Home on our behalf. And since we're featuring a baking related Grommet today on Daily Grommet (tune in at 12pm to see what it is), we thought this would be the perfect day to share their story with you.
We hope this inspires you to tell us about other organizations doing good in the world so that we can spotlight them on the Daily Grommet blog too.
Bake Me Home - A profile by Julia Elmer, Daily Grommet guest blogger
I first got involved with Bake Me Home soon after moving to Cincinnati when I saw an article about them in a local magazine. I had lost my own home to a fire when I was a child, and so these girls’ mission -- to help homeless families -- resonated with me.
Bake Me Home began its work in 2008 when Alison, a stay-at-home mom, and her then-7-year-old twin daughters, Amy and Emma, wanted to do more for the homeless shelter where they had volunteered for the past three years.
Several things all came together at once to give life to Bake Me Home. While watching Teen Kids News, Emma was fascinated by coverage of a Young Entrepreneurs Convention and asked if kids could really start their own business. Amy’s love of cooking (and Emma’s love of eating) took the girls to “Camp Cuisine” at Mercy HealthPlex where the theme “food as gifts” sent the girls home with a mason jar of cookie mix. Meanwhile, their mom, Alison, was inspired by stories of wonderful philanthropic projects at a WPO Legacies Conference, but asked the question, “Who would watch my kids if I was building houses in Mexico?
Together, the family came up with the idea of offering a simple jar of cookie mix for families leaving the shelter so that they, too, could enjoy the experience of baking together. The simple jar of cookie mix is only part of the work Bake Me Home does today, and I caught up with Alison and her daughters to learn more about them and their latest projects.
There are many ways to help families in need. Why did you choose baking?
Amy: I like to cook!
Emma: We like to bake, and we thought other families would, too.
Alison: Really, who doesn't like cookies?! Seriously, for us, it's not really about the cookies or the baking; it's about helping other moms and kids spend time together doing something fun. I also hope that getting families together in the kitchen will spark an interest in cooking that will spread beyond dessert and into dinner. We are big believers in family dinner time. I think busy families are eating too much fast food. I hope that the simple, low-cost, kid-friendly recipes from the Greater Cincinnati Nutrition Council which we provide in our Tote Bags can help our families get started with healthier eating.
What do you include in your Bake Me Home Tote Bags?
In each cloth Bake Me Home Tote Bag we include:
- a jar of homemade Bake Me Home oatmeal chocolate chip cookie mix
- $20 Kroger grocery store gift card
- mixing bowl
- pot holder
- cookie sheet
- family pack of 6 toothbrushes
- family size tube of toothpaste
- recipe book with healthy, low-cost, kid-friendly recipes donated by the Greater Cincinnati Nutrition Council
What's your "secret weapon" when you bake? Any tools or tips to share?
Emma: Use a spoon for stirring to make our cookies, not an electric mixer. Our families don't usually have mixers, so we made a recipe that works best like this.
Alison: Melt the butter, but make sure it's not so hot that it melts your chocolate chips! This will make mixing your batter a breeze!
Which Bake Me Home accomplishment are you most proud of?
Amy: All the shelters that we've added (4 now).
Emma: I like that the cookies from Bake Me Back Home made some soldiers feel like they were back home.
What is Bake Me Back Home?
Alison: Back Me Back Home is an on-going fundraiser that gives our supporters the opportunity to help two missions with one donation. For a $30 donation we will send 2 dozen of our homemade cookies to a military member of your choice or one from our list of nominees. A portion of the money supports our programs for families from homeless and battered women's shelters. The official launch for this project is expected to be next month, but we've received great feedback from test batches sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. We are thrilled that this project will allow us to raise money for our local families while doing something to thank the brave women and men serving our country. We hope that the taste of our homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies will help them feel like they are "back home," even if it's just for a moment.
So girls, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Amy (left): An architect.
Emma (right): A writer.
Alison (she's in the bake sale photo above): I haven't decided yet!
Can we try some of your cookies?
Absolutely! Our recipe is on our website.
And if you happen to be near Cincinnati, we'll also have plenty of cookies to share at our Bake Me Home Boutique Fundraiser at Coldstream Country Club on April 24, 2010 from 5:30-9:00pm.