Local Organization Aims to Empower Women for a Second Chance



Last Sunday, I mustered up the courage to run yet another 5k race.  It was called the “Love the Run You’re With” 5k by Pacer’s. When you registered you had to declare your status: Co-Dependent (registrant is in a relationship) Stupid Cupid (registrant is single) Love ‘em or Leave ‘em (well… it’s complicated)
Naturally, I was stupid cupid so I wore a green bib letting all the other runners know that this girl is single and ready to mingle! Except most of the men who were there sported a co-dependent or red bib, girrrl you better pump those breaks because I’m already in a relationship.
At any rate after I finished the race it was time to hydrate by cashing in my free “beverage” ticket and grabbing a banana. Goood morning to you too! Also, a friend pointed out that there was a local organization whose mission is to empower women for a second chance. I had to check it out, the homemade chocolate chip cookies they were passing out served as a great lure.
This organization is called Together We Bake: Empowering Women for a Second Chance (TWB). The idea was born in 2010 by avid runners, running coaches and marathoners Tricia and Stephanie. Based in Alexandria, VA TWB aims to empower women through a comprehensive job training and personal development program.

The program is centered on a baking business, something that Tricia is very well versed in being a successful baker herself selling chocolate chip cookies under the name Brown Bag Cookies for 8 years. With a master’s in Social Work Stephanie has spends her time planning the program and improving it in its current 12-week pilot period which kicked off in January. Together they have the recipe for success! Annnnd really, really delicious and all natural baked goods. Nom nom nom.
TWB partners with local businesses to create employment opportunities for their program graduates. The organization supports women transitioning toward self-sufficiency through collaborations with Friends of Guest House, supportive transitional housing program, and Downtown Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA.
“We are not only teaching job skills,” said Stephanie when I chatted with her on the phone. “We are building confidence and a team atmosphere showing the women that they can count on people to help them succeed.
“A lot of these women haven’t had that positive reinforcement in their lives from anyone, but despite the things they’ve gone through in their life they are still resilient, positive and want the best not only for themselves, but for those who are mothers, their children. “
On their website, TWB states that most women who are participants in their program are in the returning citizen population who are 35 years old and mothers and have a history of abuse, lack education, or have been convicted of a non-violent crime.
The program is sectioned out into two parts: Workforce Training and Personal Development.
In the workforce training program  participants will learn food safety, baking instruction and production, product sales and delivery as well as workforce development. Upon completion, participants will be certified food managers which will give them the opportunity to have a higher starting wage, preferential hiring and possible management positions.
In the personal development program participants will learn self-empowerment and life skills giving them the confidence to take charge of their career.
All the proceeds from their product sales directly support the program. Be sure to stop by the Del Ray Farmers’ Market to grab your freshly baked cookies and granola and support these strong women who are taking action in making their lives better not only for themselves but their children. Want to Help?! Donate here.

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