Bakery Cooks Up Second Chance For Homeless Tulsans
TULSA, Oklahoma - An area bakery has the ingredients to help homeless people get a second chance.
It's estimated there are 1,000 homeless people in Tulsa County and almost 20 percent are children or teens.
One synagogue, near Peoria and 17th, that transforms into a bakery every Tuesday night is making a big difference.
The workers that make the cookies aren't ordinary bakers, many used to be homeless, and the job has turned their life around.
Soft, gooey and filled with oatmeal and chocolate chips, the cookies are pretty delicious, but even more extraordinary are the bakers who make them, like Kimberly Ferry.
“I just like to know everything in the bakery,” she said.
A few years ago, Ferry, was struggling to even get by, let alone hold a steady job. She left home after feeling like she could no longer care for her son who was only seven.
"I left at seven because the home life wasn't good and I thought DHS would come and give him a better family," Ferry explained.
She spent years in shelters, struggling with a mental illness, and then got help from the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma.
That's when she learned about the Altamont Bakery, and was interested right away.
Learn More About The Altamont Bakery
“I didn't have any money and I wanted to buy my son some shoes or something, which I hadn't done in a long time," Ferry said.
All of the bakers have similar pasts, most were once homeless and have a mental illness.
Project Director Nancy Cohen helped bring this bakery to life; knowing the B'nai Emunah Synagogue had very skilled bakers, she and few others came up with an idea.
"How great it would be to teach a trade to people that we are pretty good at doing," Cohen said.
Each week the paid bakers, along with a few volunteers, make about 1,500 cookies that are sold to various businesses and hospitals across the city.
It's a recipe for success, allowing Ferry to live in her own apartment and see her son on a regular basis.
"We are very close, we've got a closer bond than a lot of moms and sons," she said.
Cohen said, "We've made a difference. I really think we have, not only in their lives, but the cookie is pretty good too."
Cohen said one of the things she thinks helps the bakers, is knowing they are depended on every Tuesday to make all of the cookies.