Posted on May 9, 2023
Kristen Tracey had been looking for a job for a year and a half, sending resumes, going to businesses, speaking to managers with Tonya Stonesifer*, Job Developer, but with no success. She wanted to work at a cafe, and she had experience in the field, but where she previously worked had unfortunately closed.
Through many twists and turns, Kristen finally landed her preferred cafe job at JeannieBird Bakery.
JeannieBird Bakery sits on Westminster’s Main Street. It has been in existence at its current location since 2014. It is a bustling place with many daily, loyal, committed customers – most busy in the mornings and Saturdays.
The great presence of JeannieBird is Bernie, the owner. He knows many of the patrons and speaks to them as old friends. He welcomes new customers and frequent-goers, sharing his knowledge, hospitality, and chatting people up. He is the welcoming presence that makes JeannieBird what it is.
Bernie strives to build community. He has a framed picture of “How to Build Community” on one of the bakery walls. Some things it says include: “Leave your house, know your neighbors, greet people, play together, buy from local merchants, share what you have.” Jeannie Bird embodies these aspects of community – Bernie is the prime exemplar, but his staff embodies community, too.
These community connections proved to be important in Kristen’s job search. In fact, I was able to frequent JeannieBird every Saturday, making it routine. After a month, I had the opportunity to start a conversation with Bernie, introducing Penn-Mar and the possibility of having someone start a work trial at JeannieBird.
Bernie was immediately thrilled to support. He said, “I thought you were a professor or teacher coming in with your books and writing every Saturday. But I know of Penn-Mar, when Mike Shriver would meet with other agency CEOs here.”
Within two weeks, Victoria, the employment manager, brought Kristen Tracey to introduce her to Bernie and “closed the deal.” A two-week work trial was set up. After the two-week trial, Bernie was impressed and hired Kristen as part of the “Croo” at JeannieBird, working two days a week. Bernie said, “She is a firecracker and zips around and does great wiping tables and clearing tables and bringing the dishes to the back.”
As Kristen gets job coach support, the hope is to expand her job tasks: serving drinks as well and running food to customers. Kristen is an avid coffee drinker and enjoys serving her favorite drink to others.
Ivy Weiss, Employment DSP who has been coaching Kristen said, “She absolutely loves her new job! She’s very excited to have it and she says she works very hard! People are very receptive to her smile and kindness while attending to tables; staff are friendly, helpful, and very supportive if/when we need it.”
On the Community plaque on the bakery wall it also says, “ask for help when you need it and seek to understand.” JeannieBird has opened a great opportunity for Kristen and understands the need of employment for those who want to work and who have historically been marginalized.
Kristen is so happy to work and loves her job. The teamwork implemented to support Kristen getting her job is how community networking happens. Through presence, starting a conversation, patience, good things come to fruition.
Stop by JeannieBird Tuesday through Saturday, grab a coffee, tea, baked good or breakfast or lunch, they’re open until 3PM – you won’t regret it.
Jeannie and Bernie started selling their goods at the farmers market in Westminster in 2008 and had a dream to have an established place of business, which came to fruition in 2014. Two years later, Jeannie, on her way to work early in the morning was in a fatal car crash. I remember when this happened and JeannieBird was closed for several weeks, with the community unsure if the bakery would reopen.
After grieving, Bernie decided to continue the business per Jeannie’s vision and has turned the bakery into a wonderful community. “Jeannie’s legacy lives on thanks to our wonderful ‘Croo’ members, past and present, who carry on her vision and recipes. Everything we offer is baked-from-scratch with lots of love and butter. We’re a bakery that does things; a bakery that makes sandwiches, not a restaurant that bakes bread. A bakery that sells wine, not a wine shop that sells scones,” shares Bernie.
Our colleague and friend Tonya sadly passed away on April 25th after a short but courageous battle with cancer. Tonya impacted everyone she encountered. She was a great advocate for those we support, a trusted resource for families, an incredible co-worker to many that also considered her a close friend, and most of all a wonderful person. Her work lives on in the lives of the many people she supported, like Kristen.