Bakery Giving Felons a Second Chance Forced to Close
TULSA, Oklahoma - A bakery helping formerly incarcerated Oklahomans had to close its doors last week because they couldn't get enough business. Now they are trying to find a way to re-open, and they are looking for help from the community.
“They are just like us,” said Le Jardin Eatery Owner, Angela Landrum. “They made choices that were bad and they got into trouble and they’ve paid the price, and now they deserve the opportunity for a normal life.”
Studies show Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate in the country, and Landrum says she’s frustrated that a business she worked so hard to build in order to help people is being forced to shut down.
"Some of us have coffee every day and if 10% of people who have that behavior pattern would’ve chosen to have coffee with us, then it would’ve had a huge impact on the lives of 15 people," said Landrum.
Le Jardin employees 15 men and women who have been in trouble with the law and are looking for a second chance.
"I hated that it happened, but it’s a part of what can happen when we don’t know how to handle emotional things in our life that happen to us," said former employee Lisa Thompson.
Thompson says she was going through a bad divorce a few years ago and fell on hard times,
She says it was difficult to find a job after she got out of jail, until she found Le Jardin.
Thompson started working at the restaurant when they opened in July and was there until they shut down last Thursday.
"It’s not too often that you find places of work where you actually really enjoy going," said Thompson.
Sugar Rush Bakery owner Angela Landrum wanted to open a restaurant to help formerly incarcerated Oklahomans find jobs.
However, because they weren't getting enough business, her employees are now jobless.
“We are just making phone calls and doing anything that we can to try to get them placed with someone else as quickly as possible,” said Landrum.
But because of their records, a lot of employees are now struggling to find work.
“There’s a lot of jobs that I am barred from - that I can’t do because of my situation,” said former employee Zurrad Murray.
Landrum says she still plans to continue with education and personal development through her non-profit, Life's Food.
She says it's hard to help her employees when she isn't able to provide a drug and alcohol free place for them to work.
“How can we expect people who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction or life of crime to be placed in an environment where they are around the very things that got them in trouble to begin with," said Landrum.
Because she doesn't want to give up on those who are working so hard to get back on their feet.
“My desire to help people will not go away,” said Landrum. “I was all in in the endeavors from Sugar Rush to Le Jardin to the nonprofit “Life’s Food,” and I will continue to be all in.”
Right now the company is looking for investors in order to help get their doors back open, but you can also help by making donations to their non-profit Life's Food.
“We are entertaining the idea of opening another location if we have investors that are willing to support us,” said Landrum. “We would love support from any philanthropic individuals or foundations who believe in our mission and our cause of rehabilitating people.”