Sometimes a box of chocolates is a whole lot more. Danconias Truffle Brownies certainly are, for when you buy a box of these terrific treats, you’re also tapping into a commitment to make a difference.
How does a brownie translate into social good? It starts with Bridge House, a nonprofit entity in Boulder that houses and hires those struggling with hunger, homelessness, and unemployment. “Our mission is to provide a range of services,” says Isabel McDevitt, CEO of the forward-thinking organization. “We provide access to basic needs—meals, shelter, a safe place—and work with folks to get them to a better situation. And we have a structured employment program called Ready to Work.”
Which is where the brownies come in. In 2013, Bridge House was gifted a 2,700-square-foot commercial kitchen. And it’s there, in the Community Table Kitchen, that ingredients for Danconias brownies are measured, mixed, baked, cut, and ultimately packaged by Ready to Work employees. And that’s not all: The crew also preps food for Alfalfa’s Market and caters major events. “One of the most exciting things about this model is we’ve been able to change the narrative around homelessness as it relates to our kitchen,” McDevitt says. “We cater some pretty big things—CU’s Conference on World Affairs, 300-person dinners, corporate events at the BMW dealership. It’s not ‘Hire us because we’re helping people out of homelessness.’ It’s ‘Hire us because we’re good.’”
Bridge House started out as a traditional daytime shelter and soup kitchen in Boulder in 1997, but over the years it has evolved into an endeavor with a multi-pronged approach to addressing hunger, homelessness, and unemployment. Participants are interviewed and chosen for the one-year program, which includes dormitory housing, case-management support, and a paid Ready to Work job in either the kitchen or landscaping. “The goal is that after a year participants will be able to get a mainstream job and a place to live [on their own],” McDevitt explains.
The program is so successful (75 percent of participants graduate with a job and a place to live) that Bridge House opened a second outpost in Aurora at the end of 2018. The nonprofit has transformed an old office building there into a dormitory for 50. The vast majority of participants work through a landscaping contract with the municipality and five to 10 work in Boulder’s Community Table Kitchen.
But back to the brownies. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest impact, and ordering a box of Danconias truffle treats directly helps three local entities: Bridge House and its mission, the Ready to Work employees, and the locally owned brownie company. “There are bigger issues in the world and I don’t know how to change those,” say Khaki Fox, Danconias’ CEO and chief gifting officer. “But [you] can order this box of brownies and help people get back to work.”
The truffle brownies are available online. Small boxes start at $10 and go up from there; the one pictured above is $36.99.