Volunteer Spotlight - Marijean Armstrong

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One of our favorite things to do at For Goodness Cakes is to highlight our volunteers. They are truly remarkable and constantly impress us with their generosity and talent. This month we are highlighting Marijean, and we are excited to share her personal experience with you! 

Last year Marijean was looking for volunteer opportunities where she could use what she loved to do to benefit others. After some research, she found us - it was a truly perfect match because her hobby just so happened to be cake decorating!

She immediately signed up for the next orientation and loved the mission and vision that was presented to her. That very same day, she became a part of the Sprinkle Squad and quickly signed up for her first cake. Now this was no regular assignment - her very first baked good for the organization was, in fact, a Wedding Cake! The Executive Director of Stepping Forward LA was getting married and wanted a way to celebrate with the young adults from the First Saturday workshops because they weren’t able to come to the wedding. She thought she would receive a cake like the others, but Marijean had other plans!

This cake stands out for Marijean for several reasons. It was her first assignment so it held a special place in her heart, alternating layers of yellow and pink velvet cake with buttercream icing. She put in a great deal of effort into creating the bride and groom cake topper by melting white chocolate and pouring it into a candy mold. She had such a wonderful time making it! 

Then, several months after she created the cake she actually got to meet the woman the cake was for! While attending a KidSave event, Marijean met Beth, who learned she was a volunteer with For Goodness Cakes. They began to chat and Beth described a cake that was made for her and showed Marijean the picture of the wedding cake she herself had made! Marijean remarked how funny it can be when things can come full circle. 

Marijean’s top recommendation is to encourage other volunteers to let loose creatively and simply have fun. She likes to try new decorating techniques or a new cake mix flavor when she gets a baker's choice assignment. She has discovered several new favorites that way.

She also stressed to always keep in mind that the kids will love whatever is created for them and it doesn't have to be fancy. It always surprises her how much joy receiving a cake brings to someone especially when they learn it was made just for them.

To hear it directly from this wonderful woman herself, “Everyone should have a cake on their birthday and to get the chance to create one for someone who otherwise might not have one is literally and figuratively icing on the cake for me!”

Thank you, Marijean. It is an honor to have you as a part of our organization. You truly inspire! 

Volunteer Spotlight - Jessie Hill

A bird cannot fly without feathers. A car cannot start without gas. And a special birthday cake for a young person in the foster care system cannot be made without the elbow grease and love of our amazing For Goodness Cakes volunteers.

For Goodness Cakes runs on the dedication of those who offer their time and abilities. Our volunteers are our foundation and we are so proud to connect with the many women and men who go out of their way to make a child’s birthday so much more than it could be.

We want the world to know who these amazing people are, so today, we are highlighting Jessie. She has been a volunteer with us since September 2016 and we could not be happier to have her as a part of the team.

Jessie came across our charity while browsing through the VolunteerMatch website. She dove into researching the organization and when she found it combined her passion for food and helping children, she was in! Once she attended a volunteer orientation, she filled out the intake form and was all set to get started.

At first, Jessie was nervous. She had always loved cooking, but had never been an expert in baking so this would be a bit of a challenge right from the beginning. Initially, she thought baking would restrict her creativity, but she admitted that once she jumped into volunteering, she came to find that her creativity was actually enhanced.

From experimenting with different batters and frosting recipes, to becoming more advanced and exploring fondant, Jessie surprised herself with just how quickly her skills grew. She’ll be the first to admit there have been some failures along the way, but when it came to ensuring a birthday cake delivery, she always had a backup cake and frosting on hand.

During our interview, Jessie said she felt like For Goodness Cakes opened her eyes to issues she hasn’t previously thought about. She gained so much more from this experience than she realized she ever would. She shared some of what she learned that made the experience even more worthy:

“For example, did you know that 3% of children in California are homeless? Or, that LA County has the highest number of children in foster care - literally 20,000+ kids. Perhaps the most valuable thing I learned is that by donating a short amount of my time, I can create a really memorable moment.”

One of her favorite aspects of volunteering with For Goodness Cakes is knowing her cakes and cookies are going to young people who have likely never received personalized, homemade baked goods before. There are not many feelings that can top being able to make each child feel truly special on their birthday.

Having volunteers like Jessie makes all the difference. One seemingly simple action, like giving a child a personalized cake on their birthday, can have a genuinely significant impact. For Goodness Cakes is proud to be able to bring these amazing volunteers and young people together so a positive impact can be made. Thank you for being a part of the team Jessie. You are truly an inspiration!

Pictured above: Jessie’s favorite cake with For Goodness Cakes (so far!)

Pictured above: Jessie’s favorite cake with For Goodness Cakes (so far!)

Volunteer Spotlight is a monthly series highlighting some of our awesome volunteers. 

THE "WHY" TO OUR MISSION

Jaime, here! Our real first blog post, in what I hope will be a wonderful series of helpful insight to our charity, and why we do what we do. 

Yesterday I had the honor of helping Extraordinary Families, a nonprofit that helps foster youth, celebrate some very special birthdays. They host what is called a First Saturday of each month, to bring together aged-out foster youth to teach them valuable skills for the tough road ahead. Foster youth who turn 18 without being adopted is one of the toughest challenges - you're alone and expected to know how to function as an adult, many without support. I remember when I was 18 - there wasn't anything adult about me except my age!  Extraordinary Families provides such fantastic support to these kids, and it was beautiful to watch them learn and grow. 

The Program Director of First Saturdays was incredibly excited when we called to ask how we could help their cause. They celebrate everyone's birthdays for the month at First Saturdays, and so it was a perfect opportunity to "test" out our mission. As the founder of For Goodness Cakes, I took it upon myself to do the first bake-off - four different cakes (yellow butter cake with milk chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles, funfetti cake with vanilla frosting and nonpareil sprinkles, red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and red sprinkles, and a chocolate cake with fluffy white marshmallow frosting) to celebrate the four kids who had a birthday. 

When they announced us at the end of the day's activities, the surprise was both beautiful and heartbreaking. One of the kids, it turns out, thought they were too old for cake. Another one never even got acknowledgement from their foster family. This was the exact reason I started this nonprofit - but it was my first time coming face to face with it, and I wasn't prepared for how absolutely heartbreaking it felt to actually hear in person. The smiles in their faces, the incredible appreciation of these amazing kids who just wanted to celebrate a birthday with someone - that was worth every second spent in the kitchen not just these last couple days, but my entire life to have prepared me to be able to provide great tasting cakes. 

We're incredibly proud to have been able to help Extraordinary Families out, and can't wait until next month!