Tag Archives: bakery

19th Annual Women Mean Business Luncheon benefiting Coalition for the Homeless’ First Step Job Training Program

Homeless.

We have all heard the word and many have discussed the plight of the homeless, but few of us have truly experienced what it is like to have no place to call home. No place for a moment of solace. No place for a shred of privacy. No place for safety. No place to shelter ourselves let alone our family. When tough times strike, most of us are fortunate enough to have family and friends upon which to lean.

In the fall of 2011, while this company was in its infancy, I lost what little financial security I had. I was shaken to my core and terrified of how I would survive. Luckily, I had an incredible support system who offered me everything I needed to keep my head above water and Lenny in kibble. They refused to let me falter and in return I promised that I would do everything possible to make this company successful. Two years and many ups and downs later, Lenny and I still have a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, clothing on our backs and the “little company that could” is steadily growing and making its mark not only in people’s tummies, but in their hearts as well. But what of those who are not as lucky as we?

I have been blessed with an amazing circle of family and friends who make the world a better place daily by reaching out to those less fortunate and offering them a helping hand. One of those people is my dear friend, Liz Henderson. Liz is one of the kindest, gentlest, most considerate people you will ever meet. She has an infectious laugh and her fiance, Kevin, and their pug, Lennon, make me smile daily knowing that they are out there making the world a better place. You see, Liz is the Director of the Coalition for the Homeless First Step Job Training Program.

“A record 10,000 families sleep each night in New York City’s emergency shelter system. Thousands more live doubled- or tripled-up with friends or relatives, unable to afford housing in one of the country’s tightest real estate markets. The overwhelming majority of these homeless families are headed by single mothers who want to provide their children with safe and stable homes. Many lack the career skills necessary to find and maintain living wage employment. Others suffer from low-self esteem and self-worth, usually caused by years of domestic abuse. That’s why the Coalition’s First Step Job Training Program is so vital. By empowering homeless women to reach self-sufficiency through hands on job training, internships, mentoring, job placement and social service support, First Step benefits every member of the family.

“First Step’s innovative 14-week curriculum includes over 75 hours of computer instruction, along with literacy workshops, communication and interpersonal skills development, and other hands-on activities that give students a thorough and practical understanding of the job market and workplace. First Step also places students in internships with major corporations or non-profit organizations, and offers mentoring by experienced professional women. We also provide a lifetime of post-graduate services, including job placement assistance, ongoing mentoring from staff and volunteers, support groups, additional training seminars, and numerous networking opportunities with alumni and business professionals.

“Each year First Step helps hundreds of women achieve a new found sense of self-esteem and direction. The program has proven to be highly effective. Last year, of those enrolled, approximately two-thirds graduated, successfully completing both the classroom and internship portions of the program, of which 75 percent secured full-time employment.

“Coalition for the Homeless is the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women, and children. We are dedicated to the principle that affordable housing, sufficient food, and the chance to work for a living wage are fundamental rights in a civilized society. Since our inception in 1981, the Coalition has worked through litigation, public education, and direct services to ensure that these goals are realized.

When Liz, in her quiet way, approached me about sponsoring this year’s Women Mean Business Luncheon it wasn’t a question of whether we would participate, but how. We couldn’t afford to buy a table (but one day we will) so, we went about making caramels to fill 350 organza pouches which would be included in the event gift bags. As I worked silently in the kitchen cutting and wrapping each confection one day, I reflected on the small community of homeless and near-homeless men who inhabit a corner of my block.

I often rely on Lenny to gauge the character of a person so when he immediately took to one of the men who sold newspapers at the subway entrance, I made a point to learn his name. Roy has never asked for money or food. He and his boys sit on milk crates most days chatting and watching the goings on of the public housing buildings across the way. On days when the sun is shining, Lenny stops and sits amongst the men letting them pet him while they tell me about the dogs they used to have. One man calls him “Sandy,” but I’ve never corrected him because it’s not important. What is important is that for a few minutes each day a lady and her dog stop by to chat. We don’t walk by and turn a blind eye. We don’t treat the men like pariahs. We smile and ask how they are doing. Simply, we treat them like humans — with dignity and respect — just as we wish to be treated.

It was my honor to be seated with Liz, Corporate Partnership Award recipients of Deutsch and Class 112 graduate Marlene Romero at this year’s luncheon. It was an amazing two hours in which I was inspired by the strength, perseverance  and words of hope, spoken by President & CEO of Coalition for the Homeless Mary Brosnahan, Class 111 graduate Shakira Kennedy, Class 106 graduate Jessie Garcia and Ms. Romero. Many tears were shed and 350+ attendees walked out of the Grand Ballroom at The Pierre on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, with a renewed energy for change.

As Deutsch stated in the event program, “The difference between wanting change and creating change starts with standing up. Here’s to empty seats.”

“A League of Our Own” wine & dessert tasting event benefiting Harlem RBI and DREAM Charter School

I was having a particularly challenging personal day, during a particularly challenging personal week, during a particularly challenging personal month, when I received just the ray of sunshine I needed to begin parting the clouds of my psyche.

Taking a couple hours to escape reality one Wednesday afternoon, I decided to stroll through Chelsea Market. I love everything about the space from its origins as a Nabisco factory to the live webcam catching glimpses of visitors as they pass the waterfall to the myriad of vendors who now call the space home. I can’t fathom how anyone can wander through the market without buying a little something along the way.

Anyway, on that afternoon as I perused the bacon fat slicked brussels sprouts in Dickson’s Farmstand Meats’ window, I received a telephone call. Harlem RBI was hosting their 5th  annual “A League of Our Own” event on the evening of Thursday, March 7, at Radio City Music Hall, and they were wondering if Alecia Bakery NYC would be interested in participating.

Two years after we opened our doors to East Harlem boys in 1991, a group of girls marched into Harlem RBI offices and demanded a league of their own. Since then, girls have enjoyed a place to play, learn and grow at Harlem RBI. Today, Harlem RBI and DREAM Charter School annually serve more than 600 girls and young women and will continue to support them as they become our leaders and change makers in the community and beyond.

 A League of Our Own is our fifth annual wine and chocolate tasting event set at the historic Radio City Music Hall. The elegant affair includes exquisite wines, chocolates and heavy hors d’oeuvres from premiere New York restaurants and dessert shops. A silent auction will support our programs in East Harlem. Join us as we celebrate the strength and perseverance of the girls and women at Harlem RBI and DREAM.

Interested? Very little could have pulled me away from ogling the gorgeous green orbs, but this proposition made my heart soar! After a bit more discussion, it was agreed that an assortment of our caramels would be most fitting for the event’s expected 300 guests. And with that simple decision, the smile returned to my face, all of the “garbage” that had been weighing on me began to fall away from my shoulders and I felt reenergized.

Its quite simple. Nothing makes me feel as good as when I’m helping others. And it was an honor and a privilege to be given the opportunity to help such an amazing organization.

                   

                                                     

The ol’ gal can still clean up pretty well!

I rarely have time to go out socially these days and even rarer still are the occasions that allow me to get “all dolled up,” as a dear friend commented recently. But, on the wet, blustery winter evening of the event, I walked into the glittering Grand Foyer of Radio City Music Hall feeling like a modern day Cinderella. Dessert stations presented attendees with such an array of chocolate desserts that even the most fanatical chocolate lover would have been dizzied by the amount of cacao on display. Wine glasses sparkled and clinked. And wooden trays of delectable savory morsels floated by on the arms of servers dressed in Harlem RBI tees.

It was an evening I will always remember, but perhaps not for the reasons you may think. You see, many years ago I was a public school teacher in two extremely challenging school districts (Flint, MI and Jersey City, NJ). I gravitated towards the students who were at most risk, who had the least hope, who needed the most encouragement. I found joy in being their personal cheerleader. So while all of the luxe accoutrements of the evening’s event were spectacular, it was the three women who spoke and the stories they told that captured my heart and made me a Harlem RBI and DREAM Charter School supporter for life.

A beautiful young lady spoke of her “a-ha” moment when she realized what it was like to be a part of a team at Harlem RBI. One of the four highest ranking female executives at Delta Airlines shared her most terrifying professional moment — when she had to explain why she was qualified to continue to do the job she had successfully earned and loved, but due to a torrent of bad luck had failed miserably. And the effervescent Principal of DREAM Charter School recounted one of her most challenging cases — an 8 year old boy who when asked by his mother in the presence of the Principal, “Why did you say you aren’t going to college?” answered plainly, “You didn’t.”

All of the stories shared that evening served to remind me that every obstacle can be overcome and every goal can be reached with perseverance and the help and support from others. Oh, one more thing, and my favorite quote from the evening, “There’s a special place in hell for women in business who don’t help one another.”

Click on the image for more pics from the event!

Lenny is NYC’s Top Dog of 2013!

“Thank you Lenny for all you do for our dog community. Wonderful pug group and great job on your fundraising!” – Ada Nieves, Co-chair of the New York Pet Fashion Show

We had No, let’s be honest. I had been looking forward to a rare fancy night out at the New York Pet Fashion Show since November 2012 when Lenny was asked to participate in the Vendor Runway portion of the event. When I learned that this year’s event beneficiary was one of our favorite NYC shelters, Animal Haven, I knew we had to do it! However, at the time there was a small hiccup. We were hoping to have our new shop open around that time and I wasn’t sure if we would be able to make it. And then fate took hold and our shop opening hit a few road bumps so on New Year’s Eve I messaged Ada to ask if Lenny’s spot was still available. To my delight, it was!

Lenny the Pug by Andy Bautista at Sacred Tattoo NYC

I chose a gorgeous vintage Betsey Johnson dress to wear. No, I didn’t buy it from a trendy vintage shop in the Village. I have just hung onto it long enough that it, along with much of my wardrobe, is now considered vintage. Hmmm…maybe I’m vintage now, too. But, I digress… Back to the dress! It was perfect! Its tiny spaghetti straps and low back would show off the gorgeous tattoo work by Jon Mesa across my back, shoulder and arm, while the asymmetrical hemline would allow me to proudly show off my latest, and okay let’s just agree its my greatest, tattoo of a smiling Lenny by Andy Bautista on my thigh. Have I mentioned how much I hate promoting myself, but LOVE promoting others?

Once I had chosen something appropriate to wear that wouldn’t embarrass Lenny while he mingled with his peers, it was his turn. He, of course, eschewed the evening’s theme (The Roaring 20’s)  as well as all social guidelines and decided he would go au natural. That’s right. The pug was going to attend the party NAKED! Oh the horror! LOL! While many folks know the pug has a fabulous winter wardrobe envied even by HUMANS, it has always been important to me to allow him to be a pug first and foremost. The event was being held on the top floor ballroom of the Pennsylvania Hotel — no need for protection from inclement weather indoors. So, run nekkid little pug! Run nekkid!

With our attire chosen, we had five weeks to relax while event organizers scrambled to pull everything together. If you’ve ever organized a public event in NYC, you know how many CASES of wine those organizers probably went through calming their nerves. I have…and can make an educated guess.

Anyway, on January 28 I received a message from Ada Nieves, Co-chair of the New York Pet Fashion Show:

“We would like to present a formal invitation to the New York Pet Fashion Show on Feb 8 at the Pennsylvania Hotel. Lenny has been nominated for an award. Please confirm attendance. Thank you!”

WHAT?!?! I wondered to myself, “What in the world has the little pug been doing when I’m not around? Obviously its been positive because he’s won an award!” I was so proud of my little pug.

With the news of a mysterious award, my excitement grew! And then after weeks of anticipation…

Really? What’s up with naming a winter storm?

Winter storm Nemo. Stupid blizzard.

I considered every possible option of transporting the little pug to the event. Car service. Too expensive and would take a miracle to get a car in the storm. Subway. MTA warned of suspended service and our home stop is above ground — surely it would be shut down. Walking. One hundred sixty-seven blocks south in dropping temperatures and blizzard conditions carrying a 17 lb pug. Absolutely not. There just didn’t seem to be a truly safe method of transportation for us. And so after months of looking forward to a night out, I made the heartbreaking decision that we would not attend. I would not wear my dress. Lenny would not frolic naked in a fancy ballroom. And most crushing, the little pug would not be able to accept his award — which I could only assume was for “Frito-iest Feet”.

That decision, however difficult, ranked low on my chart of difficult decisions throughout Lenny’s life thus far. He wasn’t having a limb amputated. He wasn’t being put under anesthesia. It wouldn’t bring on a seizure. He didn’t know or care that he was going to miss a party. Nor did he know or care that he was supposed to accept an award that evening. He knew that home was safe and warm and cared that his dinner would be in his bowl.

So we stayed home listening to the wind, watching the snow fall like magic and Lenny ate his dinner from his bowl. The little pug was happy…and so was I.

Morning after Nemo walk in show up to his chin.

This morning Lenny and I woke to a snow covered wonderland. Gorgeous, but definitely not suited for Lenny as the little pug slid down the steps of our front stoop and stood frozen waiting for me to pick him up and carry him to the sidewalk where a narrow path had been created by human footprints. I rarely carry my phone with me when walking Lenny, but this morning I took it along to take photos of our snowyneighborhood and I’m glad I did. A simple message arrived from Ada while we walked:

“Congrats NYC Top Dog of 2013!!!!!!

WHAT?!?!? It must be a mistake. The message must have been truncated and Ada meant to send me the list of last evening’s award winners. I messaged Ada back to inquire and then I started to cry. As the tears froze on my cheeks, I was overwhelmed by the possibility that Lenny had actually been named the NYC Top Dog of 2013. I have said it thousands of times and will say it thousands more during Lenny’s lifetime. The little pug is my northern star ever directing me to all that’s good and decent in the world. He reminds me daily of what is truly important.

When we returned home, and Lenny had his post-walk cookie, I messaged my dear friend, Gail, who had volunteered with Animal Haven at last night’s evening and graciously accepted Lenny’s award in our absence, to confirm. Her answer? Lenny had indeed received the award for NYC’s Top Dog 2013 (almost a unanimous vote, according to Ada a few minutes later)! Gail had his award and a goody bag in hand. I was beside myself. Stunned. Honored. Humbled. And crying again.

Thank you Ada, Gregg Oehler (President/CEO, New York Pet Fashion Show), Richard Cordero (Vice President, New York Pet Fashion Show), Dana Humphrey (PR & Marketing Consultant, New York Pet Fashion Show), Gail, Animal Haven staff & volunteers, everyone on the committee who voted for Lenny, and last but absolutely not least, the amazing NYC animal community!

I’ve never sought out accolades or expected recognition for anything Lenny and I have done. It is truly an honor and a privilege to be a part of the incredible animal community here in NYC. I will proudly display Lenny’s award at our new shop when it opens this Spring as a daily reminder to myself, our staff and everyone who stops in, that we all have the power to do good every day. We simply must choose to do it.

“Cookies so good I could cry!”

It’s always nice to receive unsolicited positive feedback from customers. And thankfully, we have a loyal and steadily growing fan base who truly appreciates the love and time we put into our products. While every note of encouragement, thanks and praise, is not only appreciated, but helps to fuel our passion, occasionally we receive a note that move us to tears.

Chestnut Cookies (special order only)

[My wife’s] father called her AGAIN about the cookies. He was almost in tears. I’ll tell you why…

As I’d mentioned to you, [my wife’s] mom used to make the same type of cookie for Xmas using walnuts. They were VERY similar in taste and texture — so light they melted in your mouth. I’d await my holiday deliveries from her every year, and she’d always make an extra batch for me. I’d never before or since found that type of cookie made as well until I tasted yours. They’re so identical it’s uncanny. Anyway, her father said the same thing to [my wife]. He said it feels as if he has her mother’s Xmas cookies again. He’d been trying out different bakeries, but nothing cut it. You did a mitzvah!!”

And that, friends, sums up what we hope you all feel when you take a bite of our treats. We aspire to remind you of happy, possibly simpler, times when a bowl of cookie dough could create fun, laughter and the most wonderful memories.

Holiday hugs from my heart to yours…

For weeks I’ve been mentally and verbally penning a holiday message to send out to all my family, friends and fans. But just now a dear friend posted a picture of her beloved (human) partner on my Facebook page. There he is, Mr. “Banshee Mandolin,” this insanely talented musician and author, grinning puckishly as he snacks on his 18 year old rescue pug, Louis Migitsu Cannonball Dupree’s Alecia Bakery NYC “Canine Cookie Jar” Pumpkin Biscotti! Suddenly, I knew exactly what to say.

It is a simple message full of genuine thanks, honest appreciation and true love from every corner of my heart.

Conventional or unconventional. Raucous or serene. People wall-to-wall or with one adoring friend or furkid. It does not matter how or what you celebrate. What is most important is that you are loved and appreciated by someone today and every day of the year — even if that someone is a crazy little baker in NYC and her adorable tripod pug.

It is with a full heart that I thank each and every one of you for your support and friendship this year. I am a better person for it and continue to grow because of it.

Now go hug someone and share a cookie!

With holiday hugs,

Lin & Lenny the Pug

From a fan…beyond the butter, sugar and flour.

The following unsolicited comment about me and my company have my heart bursting at the seams with joy and pride this morning. THIS is what I hope everyone sees through the butter and sugar:

“Anyone who likes sweets who isn’t trying my friend Lin’s prodigious menu is missing out on something special. Besides baking delicious, artisan cakes, cookies and other delicious stuff, she’s one of the most diligent, hardworking and downright decent people I’ve ever met. She puts a huge amount of care into every aspect of her product AND puts her money where her mouth is with regard to donating a portion of her earnings to pug rescue. Talented, independent artists and small business owners should be lauded and supported in this day and age, and Lin is one of them. I’m proud to count her among my small circle of friends.”

Much love to all of our family, friends and fans, who make our (sometimes round-the-clock) baking marathons worth so much more than words can express. YOU put the smiles on our faces! THANK YOU!