When Chrissa met Sally – fudge initiative paves future for two Auckland women
When Sally Swedlund pitched her ‘Wicked’ themed Chocolate-mint fudge to her bosses at The Edge, she had no idea that it would lead to the formation of a very unique work experience opportunity for Chrissa Pearce.
Sally’s fudge-making business came about from the prompting of her 16 year old niece Hannah, and together over time they developed a product they were happy to eat even if it didn’t sell. Sally is an Event Services Attendant at The Edge which led to an impromptu pitch to launch her business.
“I took a mock-up packet to my bosses at the Edge; they liked the concept and in the euphoria of a sugar rush ordered 200 packets on the spot”, enthuses Sally.
After securing the commission from The Edge, Sally required a commercial kitchen to make and package the fudge. She required the kitchen to be close to home and affordable.
“I had been looking for a commercial kitchen in my neighbourhood and the St. Columba Community Centre had the perfect set-up, 5 minutes from my home. Luckily for me the kitchen is managed by the saintly staff at Recreate, who have their office across the hallway and they could not have been more receptive and supportive of my extremely loose business plan; ‘Make 200 packets of fudge and see what happens.’”
Both parties were thrust into a new arrangement; Sally and the fudge making business and Recreate to the kitchen managing business, but it was clear they both shared a spirit of enterprise and adventure, trust and goodwill, and as a result things flowed very smoothly.
Recreate NZ, a local charitable trust which provides programmes for youth with disabilities, has been managing the community hall for St. Columba Anglican Church in Grey Lynn for the past year. It was quickly established that a great opportunity of valuable work experience could make a great fit for one of Recreate’s Life Skills graduates and for Sally.
“From time to time Hannah and I would be in the kitchen and some Recreate members would wander in to see what we were doing. I loved their enthusiastic curiosity and through these interactions I thought “this is good for all of us”, and the obvious next thought is ‘let’s go a step further’…The fudge was selling really well, we had a very compatible relationship going with Recreate, so I suggested I could give a client of theirs some work experience. And along came Chrissa!”
Chrissa is living with the heart defect Tetralogy of the Fallot, and she has been associated with Recreate for the past two years. She has completed two life skills courses, where students complete self-directed objectives such as how to take public transport, how to live healthily and how to cook and bake amazing food among other things. She has also attended Unitec and has been working for New World at Freemans Bay. For Recreate, Chrissa seemed like the perfect fit as she could transfer many skills she learnt from the Recreate Life Skills Course and additionally she lives locally in St. Marys Bay.
Chrissa started on October 8th, about a month after Sally and Hannah had started in the kitchen, and immediately proved to be an asset. She quickly learned everything Sally had to show her and then even came up with ways to improve things. Chrissa is excited about this enterprise, and she expresses that she “enjoys learning new baking skills and being part of a team, and would ultimately like to gain full-time employment.”
Sally affirms that “Chrissa deserves to be a valued employee, and this is my next goal. She could give motivational talks on positivity! Her limitations are small and unremarkable, while her strengths are truly remarkable. She dove in with such enthusiasm, commitment and joy – I don’t think I’ve seen her without a smile on her beautiful face. Anything that was a bit of a challenge she showed perseverance and determination to master.”
Sally and Chrissa have already been brainstorming new flavour ideas for next February as Sally is on hiatus until then. Loving Spoonfuls can be contacted currently via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning (09) 360 1119. You can see what Recreate NZ do at www.recreate.org.nz and like their ‘Recreate NZ’ facebook page for photos, videos and stories.