On Tuesday, 90 St. Louisians gathered to celebrate this year’s success and learn more about our plans for 2018. Every member of The Women’s Bakery family is special and on Tuesday we had the opportunity to offer our thanks to a group of individuals who have supported our work since it was a mere idea.
Many of the attendees have known me since I was a child. Which, lucky for them (and me), a lot has changed since then – namely that I have grown into my height and wear a haircut that better suits my desired appearance now. Yet, even in my hay-day of awkward, these St. Louisians have stood by me and routed me on. And Tuesday was no exception. 90 people filled the room because they are interested in The Women’s Bakery and wanted to listen to us and learn more about our work.
It is a pleasure always to present The Women’s Bakery: to share with others why we do the work that we do. But Tuesday as particularly special because I was joined by three of my team members – three powerhouse women who have helped to build and shape The Women’s Bakery, and who shared more about our work from (mostly) their perspectives.
It was inspiring for me to watch Natalie, Heather and Meg as they presented. To listen to what they said and how they said it; to think about why they put emphasis on certain points, such as renewing their commitment to The Women’s Bakery, valuing the transference of a vocational education, and striving for even larger leaps of impact for our women in Rwanda. But it was also inspiring for me to watch their audience: The St. Louisians whom I’ve known forever were now seeing proof that The Women’s Bakery is graduating from project to a viable business concept.
I am excited for 2018. It will be a tough and an expensive year. Tough because we have undergone a major transformation this year – owning all of the bakeries we build – and expensive because this means our operating budget has now doubled because of it. But, we have chosen the pivot because we want to ensure that our mission to educate, employ and empower women remains our grounding and guiding objective. And, as this Tuesday so beautifully demonstrated, we are heartened by the rallying of our supporters who see the value in women having the opportunity to learn through us, to work with us, and to transform their own lives alongside us.