Bake with Dignity: Empowering adults with special needs

Chief Baker Kevin concentrates on piping strawberry buttercream onto a cake.

The cheery yellow signage will certainly catch your eye, and once through the doors, your sense of smell will come alive with the addictive waft of freshly baked cookies inside.

This is Bake with Dignity, a bakery run by adults with learning abilities and supported by an NGO called Dignity and Services.

Speaking to FMT, Helen Teh, executive director of the NGO said they are all about championing the social inclusion of people with learning disabilities.

One of their projects, the Supported Living Programme, aims to equip individuals with basic life skills so they can live an independent life when their parents are no longer around.

Teh is humbled by the fact that the idea for the bakery was the brainchild of a mother whose son used to attend the Supported Living Programme. This concerned mother thought baking would be the perfect way to build his skills as well as to occupy his time.

Helen Teh, Executive Director of Dignity and Services, an NGO that champions the social inclusion of people with learning disabilities.

This mother was asked if she’d be willing to give baking lessons to the programme’s participants and she happily obliged.

“We shared the baked goods with parents and friends, and received positive feedback.

“One day, someone placed a bulk order as a year-end gift to his clients,” explained Teh, saying that the bakery was officially “born” then.

The salted caramel fudge brownie is their best seller – Large (20 cm ×20 cm) for RM55 and Medium (8 cm × 20 cm) for RM28.

Teh explained how there was a need to expand the bakery in order to provide more opportunities for more people, and after a series of brainstorming sessions, she and her NGO members decided to open a Bake with Dignity cafe in Leisure Commerce Square, Sunway in 2017.

According to Teh, there are currently nine special needs staff employed at the bakery, who receive salaries with proper statutory contributions.

The staff has an array of learning disabilities ranging from autism, Down syndrome, dyslexia, and others being slow learners.

How does one get a job at Bake with Dignity? “We usually call applicants for an interview to get a background of their personality, behavioural issues, the type of meltdowns they tend to have, and how we can handle them.”

(L): Blueberry Cupcakes at RM6 each. (R): Chocolate Moist Cupcakes at RM5 each.

Dignity and Services is currently looking at replicating the Supported Living Programme as well as the Bake with Dignity business model, encouraged as they are with the overwhelming interest of applicants and parents.

“We have many applicants. Unfortunately due to certain limitations, we can only employ one or two more people.

“Therefore, we provide training for those interested to learn the basics of baking. There are two modules and each module has ten sessions. Each module is only RM400.”

These beautifully decorated cupcakes are Bake with Dignity’s special promotion for Mother’s Day at RM50 a box.

The kitchen is full of life filled with the occasional laughter of coach Marina Lim’s 24-year-old autistic daughter, Jeanie.

Lim keeps a watchful eye over Loong Ji Xian, 22, as he dresses the salad together with Jeanie. “He has shown a lot of improvement since the first day he came,” smiles Teh.

Chief baker Kevin, who was employed when the bakery first opened, was extremely shy at first. Since then, his confidence has grown by leaps and bounds, Teh says with obvious pride.

Loong Ji Xian and Jeanie Lim hard at work dressing the salads before they are packed for delivery.

The products at Bake with Dignity are made from scratch and no artificial ingredients or preservatives are used.

Coach Lim takes out a pan of freshly baked salted caramel fudge brownies which is the bakery’s best seller.

It consists of a generous dollop of salted caramel sandwiched between two layers of sumptuous chocolate fudge brownies. Lim points out that even the salted caramel is made from scratch.

Bake with Dignity is currently on a pre-order basis to eliminate wastage. Interested customers can check out their website, Facebook and Instagram pages for a listing of all the delicious goodies they bake.

Orders can be made via WhatsApp, via email to bakewdignity@gmail.com, or on Bake with Dignity’s online store.

Loong Ji Xian, Jeanie Lim, Marina Lim and Helen Teh are all smiles as they encourage Kevin to cut the cake.

Bake with Dignity
Unit A2-126
Leisure Commerce Square
Jalan PJS 8/9
Bandar Sunway
46150 Petaling Jaya
Selangor

To order: WhatsApp 010-2881201/03

Source : FMT Lifestyle