OUR STORY

Sarah Bellum's Bakery & Workshop is a social enterprise bakery that supports adults with acquired brain injury to return to work and life by baking delicious, hand-crafted cupcakes. Sarah Bellum's was founded by Dr. Rik Lemoncello, Professor of Speech-Language Pathology at Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR. As an avid self-taught baker and a clinician/researcher interested in supporting adults with brain injuries, he has dreamed of opening this bakery since earning his PhD at the University of Oregon in 2008. His vision has been to open a bakery staffed by adults with brain injury to support them in returning to work, play, and life! Through his involvement with the local (Portland, OR) brain injury community, and an award from Pacific University, this program was hatched in 2016.

 

Development

Sarah Bellum's Bakery & Workshop was founded in the summer of 2016. After a year of development, marketing, branding, and lots of research, we were ready to launch. In the summer of 2017, we began baking and selling once weekly. Four bakers with brain injury each made several dozen cupcakes, including preparation, baking, and decorating, at a commercial rental kitchen in downtown Portland. The bakers then took their product to the OHSU Farmer's Market at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland to sell them on Tuesdays in June, July, and August. Each baker was coached by a graduate student in the Pacific University speech-language pathology master's program while Dr. Lemoncello supervised the graduate students and managed the program. 

 

As we continued to expand and grow, we took our program to a bigger scale in the summer of 2018. With ten different bakers/sales people who survived an acquired brain injury and support volunteer students from speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, and rehabilitation psychology programs at three different universities, we baked up even more varieties of delicious cupcakes. At the height of the summer, we brought our fabulous cupcakes to five different local farmer's markets. By the end of the summer, we were preparing twenty different varieties of cupcakes, which helped to introduce flexibility into the kitchen training workshop. We continued to fill custom orders with local delivery service, and were most excited to provide cupcakes for two weddings and several local events.  

 

In the fall of 2018, serendipity continued to align further development as a retail space "found us." Situated in the heart of Multnomah Village in SW Portland, an ideal space opened up that allowed us to expand our services and opportunities in our own "brick and mortar" shop. With the generous support of our donors and sponsors, we raised over $50,000 in September 2018 to renovate this leased space, purchase equipment, and build our commercial kitchen and retail café space. Work was completed in December 2018, and we officially opened our doors for sales on December 11, 2018. With a permanent space that is customized for our operations, we are able to provide ongoing, individualized supports, routine and structure, and expanded opportunities for adults with acquired brain injury to get involved in return-to-work training and supports. 

 

We have worked to expand our services, serve over 50 adults with acquired brain injury in a given week, and refine our evidence-based practices to support job training. We expanded operations and sales. We began to offer wholesale distribution (our mini cupcakes are now available at New Seasons market stores locally), and we were on a positive growth trajectory when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020. Since then, we have been operating with limited capacity and working to "keep the lights on" so that we can continue to offer our services and supports for the brain injury community. 

With a fully vaccinated team, we resumed operations in April 2021, and have been able to keep our team safe with pandemic protocols in place. We hired two new kitchen managers to facilitate this re-opening, and hired a new dishwasher/bakery assistant position to support operations. By the end of 2021, we were operating seven days/week again. Thank you to everyone who has continued to support our program. We are looking forward to thriving again in 2022 and beyond. 


 

Goals & Purpose

The primary goal at Sarah Bellum's Bakery & Workshop is to assist adults with acquired brain injury to develop functional, job-ready social, cognitive, and physical skills to assist with ongoing development and rehabilitation in a functional, real-world setting. Routine, repetition, customized set-up, and individualized coaching all help to support learning and development for our bakers and sales team, even many years after sustaining severe brain injuries. Returning to the workforce and engaging in the local community help to combat the isolation and depression that often accompany brain injury, while building self-confidence and resilience. In addition, students from a variety of programs learn through direct experience: how brain injury can affect a person in their everyday context, how to support individuals with acquired brain injury in functional tasks, and how to collaborate on interdisciplinary teams to provide best practices after brain injury. And, let's not forget the other important goals... to deliver outstanding cupcakes to our customers while also improving public awareness of brain injury. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Sarah Bellum's Bakery & Workshop is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization (Federal EIN 82-4548535). We are committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. We focus on supporting adults with disability from acquired brain injury, a marginalized and often misunderstood population with "invisible" injuries. We do not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, religion (creed), gender, gender identity or expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our community, including our staff, clients, volunteers, subcontractors, vendors, and customers.

 

Mission: To provide return-to-work opportunities for adults with acquired brain injury through baking and selling amazing baked treats. 

Vision: A world with competitive, gainful employment for every adult with brain injury who wants to work.

 

Values: Collaboration, Integration, Purpose, Human Connection, Equity, Justice, Sustainability

 

Sarah Bellum's Board of Directors:

  • Rik Lemoncello, President

  • Mark Palardy, Treasurer

  • Michelle Kinsella, Secretary

  • Matthew Kampfe

  • Olivia Schneider Grabacki 

Thank you for your interest in Sarah Bellum's Bakery & Workshop!