The Wonder of the Misericordia Bakery
by Terry Baugh
Misericordia held a warm place in my heart even before I heard about the Hearts and Flour Bakery. My friends, Barb and Dave, had undertaken a long and nearly impossible search to find a nurturing place for their son, Seth, to live. When he was accepted at “Les Mis” as they fondly refer to it, the search ended, and Barb moved to Chicago to be close to Seth. Visiting Barb in Chicago and volunteering at the bakery was a great opportunity for me to catch up with my friend and spend a week working hard and feeling great about every day.
Volunteering for the bakery at Misericordia is a satisfying experience in giving back. The bakery is a hub of activity, with experienced bakers and novices, like me. I volunteered in 2019 just before the holidays. Christmas music played in the background and staff and volunteers and residents cheerily greeted each other as new people arrived for their shifts. Got a hairnet or hat? Apron? Gloves? You are ready to go.
The organization of the bakery was – and is -- amazing. Every step for baking, cutting, and packaging is well thought out. It was fun to package soda bread, operating a packaging machine just like the bakery downtown. Over the days I was there, I had a chance to work on a lot of different stations, but I think I loved the brownies the most. Large batches of brownies were mixed, sheets of brownies were baked and flipped in preparation for cutting into heart shapes. There is a real technique to getting all the hearts you can out of a sheet and then evenly powdering them with a gentle tap on the sifter. Packaging is always part of the production cycle -- stacking the brownies in boxes and sending them on their way to treat a lucky recipient. They are such a delicious and simple treat!
Beyond all the baking tasks, I loved being at Misericordia and seeing the operation. Sister Rosemary has rock-star status in my book. The caring staff, the amazing facilities, and the meaningful ways of raising money that Sister Rosemary created to support this amazing facility is something to admire.
In addition to the unique operations of the bakery, I met some lovely people while “working the line”. Weekly regular volunteers, school groups, families whose children were at “Les Mis”, or had passed on, were there helping and sharing wonderful stories. And, I loved visiting Seth’s house, his classroom, and meeting his friends and the residents who helped the bakery.
So, if you are looking for a way to give back, a way to spend an extra afternoon or day a week, or a way to open your heart -- consider volunteering at the “Les Mis” Hearts and Flour Bakery. They also make gift giving easy. Shop here!
For information about volunteering at Misericordia click here -> https://www.misericordia.com/volunteer/get-involved/