I never ask them what they did
that landed them in prison.
The way I look at it,
it’s from this day forward.
If you’re not familiar with the beginnings of Laughing Bear Bakery, the story might explain some things to you about why we exist and what drives us every day to do what we do. Our founder, Kalen, worked for years as a prison chaplain. She went through a lot with the people that she served every day - walking with them through personal tragedies, sharing their grief when loved ones died, helping them to cope with life’s difficulties under less than desirable circumstances. Much is required of the person who is committed to sharing these issues day after day - a lot of internal strength and a lot of heart. Kalen sort of hit an unseen wall when it came to helping them face the realities of life outside of prison. For an ex-inmate, it means rejection on a very basic level, rejection that excludes them from having a seat at the table in so many ways. Kalen made a promise to do something about the conditions outside of prison that lead so many to go back.
When she retired, Kalen did not wait to keep her promise. She did not wait until she had established an administrative structure. She did not wait until she had first raised enough money to ensure years of operating expenses. With very little except her determination and the memory of a promise, Kalen founded Laughing Bear Bakery - a place where ex-inmates would be guaranteed acceptance, paid employment, and a second chance.
In our 4th year, we count our successes in the number of days, weeks, months, and now years that our bakers have remained out of prison. We take pride in a success rate that is very close to 100%. Our bakers are making it. It doesn’t solve all of life’s problems, but the paid employment experience at Laughing Bear Bakery assures prospective employers that our bakers are worth taking the risk. They are beating the odds. They are providing for themselves and their families. They are taking advantage of a second chance.
With each new retail outlet, we’ve enjoyed watching the Bakery grow in popularity. And, as so many have observed, hardly a week goes by that they don’t see, hear, or read about Laughing Bear Bakery in the local media. It’s very clear that people understand the importance of what we are doing. It would be okay to settle for a part-time bakery in a rented kitchen and not take the next leap into the future. But, Kalen made a promise and we are bound to help her fulfill that promise. We need to step into the future. We need to help more people.
Our future depends on you. We are laying the groundwork plans to move into a home of our own, a bakery that will give us the necessary access we need to produce more baked goods so we can hire more bakers so we can produce more baked goods so we can hire more bakers. As we develop our plans for the future, we are depending on our community to help us make it there. What can you do? (1) Partner with us by continuing to purchase our products, talking about us with your friends and co-workers, sharing your ideas for where we can sell our products, inviting us to speak at your event, adding out products in your retail business. (2) Think big with us by talking to your civic and business leaders, elected officials, and others who can help us locate and occupy the space we need for the continued growth of Laughing Bear Bakery. (3) Share with us through personal financial support, corporate donations, and philanthropic gifts - including monetary, real estate, and equipment.
We are in this together! Thank you for your interest and support. Stay tuned for more.