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Another Step Of Rockland & Westchester Launches For-Profit Baking Venture; Clover Stadium Selling Cookies At Aug. 13th Games
By Tina Traster
Hungry baseball fans at Clover Stadium this weekend can chow down pizza, frozen yogurt, and teriyaki bowls – but save room for the cookies – an assortment of sweet offerings from a startup bakery that’s in business to both bake and to create financial and vocational opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Hudson Highlands Bakery, a for-profit baking enterprise founded a year ago by the nonprofit Another Step of Rockland and Westchester, is using this entrepreneurial platform as a training ground for skill building – everything from baking to administrative work to marketing to deliveries.
To date, seven people are participating in the bakery, which is headed up by a professional baker, who prefers to remain anonymous. The concept took root last year when Celtic Sheet Metal in Orangeburg reached out to Another Step and offered them the use of a commercial kitchen. The offer to use 600 square foot space 24/7 birthed the concept of the commercial bakery, named Hudson Highlands Bakery to invoke the beauty of the region.
“This was offered to us, and we thought yes let’s do a bakery, that’s a great idea,” said Melissa Rimpici, who heads up grants and development for Another Step. “Typically, our mission is one of supportive employment, vocational training, advocacy with employers. This is our first commercial endeavor, but it blends in with what we do.”
Another Step, which is marking its 30th anniversary this year, provides individualized community-based support for the developmentally disabled. Their mission has never been a one-size-fits-all; rather Rimpici said, “We believe that by asking and listening to what each individual has to say about their personal goals, we can provide the support that will help them successfully achieve those goals.”
Another Step has been known as a leader in providing day services without the use of a central facility – instead clients are integrated into the community. More than one hundred people living in Rockland and Westchester Counties receive day services within the counties.
At Hudson Highlands Bakery, one individual is training to bake, while six others are participating in other aspects of the growing business. And it’s happening quickly. The bakery, which offers chocolate chip, spring confetti, peanut butter, lemon poppy, oatmeal raisin, sugar cookies and vegan chocolate chip cookies, is turning out 200 cookies on average weekly – though far more when it does private events.
Bakeries are a challenging and competitive field, often borne from the home-based baker. Hudson Highlands Bakery started with a kitchen waiting to be used but Another Step has shown great initiative in getting behind all the aspects of making an entrepreneurial endeavor a possibility. Inwardly, it is using its core mission to give people with disabilities a forum for training and work, but outwardly, it is functioning like any other business in terms of production, distribution, marketing, and promotion.
Aside from online and community event sales, the company offers custom orders, private party platters, and fundraising opportunities. The company rolled out two cookie varieties in March at the Pearl River St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Online ordering of three flavors started up in April, and within a month the product line expanded to eight flavors and brownies.
Hudson Highlands Bakery snagged its first wholesale vendor, Gracie’s Bulldog Grille in June.
And this summer, the company is pedaling its treats at both the Nyack Street fair and the Nyack Farmer’s Market. The bakery plans to participate in numerous fall festivals and events including the Nyack Street Fair (9/11 and 10/9), Pearl River Day (10/15,) and on Halloween Fright Night Festival at Clovers Stadium on Oct. 30.
The bakery introduced its line of cookies at the Boulder stadium on Aug.6 and will be back again on Aug. 13.
“We try very hard to make the stadium a community asset,” said Shawn Riley, Boulders Team Manager and General Manager at Clover Stadium. “We invite organizations like this to connect with us to get an entrepreneurial endeavor up and running.”
There is a $20 minimum. Cookies are sold in packs of six of one flavor for $10.00. And deliveries in Rockland and Westchester are free.
Photo: Selina training in the HHB kitchen, courtesy of Another Step