RICHMOND, Va. — At Tablespoons Bakery on Richmond’s Southside, they’re rolling out the red carpet for what might be the sweetest Zoom meeting in Central Virginia.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to make you some edible cookie dough,” said Kamani Turton-Jones.
The bakery is teaming up with Jacob’s Chance, which helps teens and young adults with disabilities flourish through a variety of activities like in-person and online enrichment classes.
“We’re real excited to do a vocational program making edible cookie dough,” said Kelsey Dunn with Tablespoons.
On this particular day, the virtual group is learning from Tablespoons baking experts like Turton-Jones.
“Kamani is one of our bakers, and he is really great talking through the steps when you’re baking because there is a lot of chemistry in that,” said Dunn.
Kate Mardigan, the founder of Jacob’s Chance, said the one-hour sessions steer members through dance, art, music and culinary courses.
“We started this when COVID first hit,” said Mardigan. “It’s well-rounded. We’re well-rounded because we’re hitting every aspect of life, whether it is fitness. Sometimes we do language.”
Mardigan said these classes help grow independence one cookie, song or painting at a time.
“If they can go into the kitchen and do it and say, ‘No Mom I’ve got this go in the other room’ That is a confidence builder,” explained Mardigan.
The nonprofit is named after Jacob Leonard, the son of Mardigan’s friend who lived with severe disabilities during his short life.
“Every single day I walk into my office and see that smiling face [on a poster] and I know what exactly I’m supposed to do.”
Mardigan said Jacob lives on in every person who joins the group.
The enrichment classes offered year-round also connect people who would otherwise be isolated.
“There was lots of laughter going on. Lots of questions, very good questions being asked. But lots of silliness,” described Mardigan.
Dunn said accepting the invite to partner with Jacob’s Chance was an easy decision.
“Also there is the opportunity for us to come together as a community make new friends and foster friendships,” said Dunn.
These two groups are proving teamwork makes the cookie work.
In this no-bake course flour, butter, sugar and salt are essential. “We’re going to let you enjoy the cookie dough,” said Dunn.
But the main ingredients at Jacob’s Chance is a pinch of love and a cup of inclusion.
“We’re removing boundaries and making sure that every opportunity is available for those we serve,” said Mardigan.
If you’re interested in learning more about the enrichment classes at Jacob’s Chance you can visit JacobsChance.org by calling (804) 640-8109.
You can learn more about Tablespoons Bakery here.
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