Program lends second chance to those recovering after prison, addiction
Detroit — Eight years ago, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s ROPE baking program began giving men struggling with the fallout of addiction or jail time a second chance.
Five years ago, the soup kitchen opened On the Rise Bakery near Interstate 94 and Gratiot in Detroit as a storefront to keep up with rising demand, while the rebounding bakers visited area parishes to sell their goods.
But the demand didn’t stop rising, and neither did the bread.
Now, the program that started as a social enterprise in one of the soup kitchen’s meal sites is celebrating the grand opening of its On the Rise Bakery Café, a 1,900-square-foot facility featuring café seating for 25-30 patrons and showcasing the bakers’ breads, cookies, sweet rolls, pies and other offerings to dine-in customers.
“Since opening a few weeks ago, traffic has been steady and enthusiastic,” bakery retail manager Brian Talley said. “The baked goods are still produced at our bakery a few blocks away, but we needed a bigger space and we wanted to expand our offerings.”
The new café is at 8900 Gratiot Ave., and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. A grand opening will be celebrated from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. July 26, with a blessing, tours and samples.
Since beginning in 2006, the ROPE baking program has served as a re-launching pad for more than 70 men through its 12-month structured life program designed to encourage positive thinking and action. For many participants, past struggles with drug addiction or prison time mean difficulty finding work, so ROPE (which stands for “Reaching Our Potential Everyday”) offers stability through housing, job training, education and counseling services — not to mention temporary employment.
“There is a real need for men coming out of these situations to get their feet beneath them. It’s too easy to lapse back into old ways when there’s no job to be had or no place to live,” said Bro. Ray Stadmeyer, OFM Cap., director of On the Rise Bakery. “The purpose of our 12-month bakery program is to introduce structure and purpose. For some of the men, this is the first time they have experienced those crucial elements in their lives.”
The program has a “zero-tolerance” policy for drugs and alcohol, but those living in community at the ROPE house and participating in On the Rise Bakery know they have plenty of support.
Kevin, a new recruit to the baking program who has struggled with substance abuse for 25 years, said he’s drawn strength from the Capuchins and his fellow bakers.
He said he is saving two-thirds of the wages he earns from the bakery to buy a car and a place to live in 12 months. He said all of the bakers are “pulling for one another.”
“I’ve been isolated all my life,” said Kevin, who became homeless after spending time in jail for robbery. “Addiction is selfish. You are only thinking of yourself. Now I’m thinking about all these guys.”
The new café will serve desserts and sandwiches on the bakery’s homemade artisan breads, as well as tea and Fair Trade coffee.
Colleen Crane, public relations director for the Detroit-based Capuchin Province of St. Joseph, said the bakers will continue to visit area parishes to speak and offer their goods because of the benefits of getting out into the community.
“This has been an integral part of the bakers’ lives as they create friendships with members of the parish and with the volunteers, many who are from the parishes,” Crane said. “In many instances, these are the first healthy relationships they have had in years.”
Kevin agreed. “We need to maintain ourselves and our sobriety,” he said. “We are in the process of making some miracles.”
On the Rise Bakery Café
To learn more about the On the Rise Bakery Café, visit www.cskdetroit.org/bakery or call (313) 922-8510.