Have You Tried Lula’s Cookies? 

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KenCrest’s Self-Employment program helps people with disabilities—like Lula—achieve their dreams of having their own business.

By Sydney Kerelo


On May 10, during KenCrest’s annual Master’s event at the Rivercrest Golf Club and Preserve sat one woman behind a table filled to the brim with cookies.

The table attracted the biggest audience as everyone eagerly tasted those cookies. And there, with a smile stretched across her face, sat Lula.

The Master’s event was Lula’s first big gig since she started her baking company, and she couldn’t be prouder of how it turned out.

“Lula began baking because one of the staff members that used to work here would bake with her on the weekends,” says Tia Gibbs, a Residential Program Manager at KenCrest. “Lula had assisted her with the cupcakes and fell in love with them. From there, we helped her start her own baking business.”

When Lula began baking, she knew she wanted to make a career out of it, so KenCrest and the Employment program helped her out.

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The Employment program works with internal and external referrals to help people pursue a self-employment job over traditional wage jobs. The program is beneficial to a person with physical accessibility needs—being in a wheelchair, having oxygen, etc.—because a lot of workspaces are not accessible. So that person may turn towards working for themselves rather than for a business.

With Lula, she knew she wanted to work for herself one day, and the self-employment team helped her achieve that.

The Self-Employment program began about a year ago, helping people like Lula learn a skill they enjoy, teaches them how to turn that skill into a sustainable career, and provides them with the equipment necessary to succeed.


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For Lula, the Self-Employment committee provided grants that allowed her to purchase baking pans, a mixer, measuring cups, baking sheets, and so much more.

Initially, it was a little tricky because Lula didn’t know how to use the measuring cups, but Sharon Shirkie, KenCrest’s Employment Supervisor, worked with her and taught her how to measure out the cups and even them out. After months of practice, Lula can set her timer, measure her cups, and follow the baking directions seamlessly.

“At first [Lula} was a little overwhelmed, but the more she baked, the prouder she got,” says Shirkie. “The turning point was at the Master’s event because she got to see her work up front and show it off. She was so proud of what she did; it showed her that she can do anything.”

“At the Master’s event, Lula showcased her chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies,” adds Gibbs. “We had people vote on which ones they liked better, and the peanut butter was the favorite.”

The next step for Lula’s baking business is to learn from a baking professional and bring her cookies to local farmer’s markets.

Gibbs and Shirkie are trying to set Lula up with a baker at Café Roma in Roxborough to experience working in an authentic bakery rather than her kitchen.

With a high motivation to be the best, Lula is determined to succeed, and the KenCrest Employment program will help her every step of the way.