“Altamont Bakery combines breaking down the stigma of mental illness with engaging Jews in powerful, positive social enterprise.”
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Bringing together people with mental illnesses and synagogue volunteers to create an exceptional line of artisanal cookies in a supportive, strengthening work environment.
Why It's In Slingshot
The Altamont Bakery offers a prime example of how a synagogue can use its facilities and human resources to create an initiative that benefits the community while providing meaningful engagement opportunities for congregants. Congregation B’nai Emunah, in partnership with the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, OK, operates the bakery as a unique Jewish response to the challenge of finding stable employment for intermittently homeless and mentally ill adults by providing this at-risk population with employment experience. In addition to supporting the individuals it serves, Altamont Bakery also educates the community; volunteers from the synagogue explore the Jewish values that inform the bakery’s mission and learn to value the importance of all people in society. Altamont Bakery describes itself as a “self-sustaining pro-social business.” The bakery operates two days a week out of the synagogue kitchen and produces up to 12,000 cookies a month for sale in the community. Proceeds from the sales of its award-winning cookies go directly to employees; the synagogue does not make any money from this venture and contributes volunteer leadership, kitchen facilities, and delivery services. This type of collaborative endeavor serves as a model for successful partnerships between religious institutions and government agencies, and shows how the repurposing of synagogue assets can impact an entire community.
Ways To Get Involved
1. Call us to ask about replicating the Altamont model in your own community. We’d be delighted to share our experiences with other organizations.
2. Please think about ordering our cookies for special events anywhere in the country. Make a powerful statement about your commitment to the homeless mentally ill by featuring artisanal baked goods at your next marquee event. The National Governor’s Association did it in 2013 and you can, too.
3. Think about hosting an Altamont speaker at an upcoming social justice gathering, planning session, or policy meeting. We’re ready to talk in a vivid, persuasive way about what grass-roots groups can accomplish.