. - New downtown bakery Once Upon a Treat is teaming up with the Charleston Housing Authority to hire women in a special housing
Owning a bakery has been a longtime goal for owner, Katrina Murphy. But Murphy said she wanted to make sure the business also makes a difference.
"There are plenty of good bakeries in this town, and I thought the only reason to do it, would be to give back," Murphy said. "We could hire women who need an opportunity and show people that you can run a business and give back."
Murphy reached out to the Charleston Housing Authority to find women in their Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS). According to its website,
the program's goal is to "assist unemployed and underemployed persons to achieve economic independence from government assistance programs by coordinating support services from public and private sectors in order to aid participants in obtaining job skills and training."
Housing Authority President and CEO Donald Cameron said the authority typically does outreach to businesses, such as local construction companies, for job placement. But Cameron said this is the first time "in recent memory," an employer reached out to the authority first.
"I think for particular parts of the community, we typically write them off," Murphy said, "and we don't see that every person has the same amount of value if they're given the opportunity to learn the skills and make the difference they can make."
"I may not have a lot, but I have a lot to offer," Felicia Broderick said. Broderick and co-worker Samantha Sturges are both in the FSS program and working with Murphy at the bakery.
"Just because I might live in a low-income area doesn't mean I can't bring the same things to the table as someone who has a culinary degree," Sturges said. "That's why it's really important to look other places than you normally would because it's not to say those people wouldn't have the same skills given the opportunity to show it."
Cameron said there are approximately seventy families in the self-sufficiency program. Murphy said she hopes teaching her employees easy-to-learn baking skills will give the women an opportunity to change their lives. Murphy hopes Once Upon a Treat inspires other business to offer similar opportunities.
"If everyone starts doing it, then we're really re-investing int he community," Murphy said. "That's good for all of us."