A nonprofit bakery with a larger mission to help women in need has launched in Dolores.
Three Chicks Bakery and Deli was started by Alana Connelly and Layce Cates to provide support, employment and housing for women who have been victims of abuse or are dealing with homelessness, depression, divorce, addiction or have just gotten out of jail.
“The ‘third chick’ is all the women out there that we want to help and empower,” said Connelly. “We are hear to talk, to offer support, to work together on a healthy path forward.”
Three Chicks Bakery, a newly remodeled space with outdoor and indoor seating, is at 105 Fifth St. It offers coffee drinks, sandwiches, salads, pastries, doughnuts, bagels and scones.
The bakery is the fundraising arm of Cultivating Sacred, nonprofits formed to provide jobs, support and safe housing for women in need or who are transitioning out of difficulty, Connelly said. Startup costs for the bakery were out of pocket and from donors, she said.
Cultivating Sacred and its bakery are held as nonprofit organizations under Onward! A Legacy Fund of Cortez, said Onward! Executive Director Chuck Forth.
As a nonprofit trader business, the bakery pays sales tax and is subject to income tax, he said. Employees are paid at least the minimum wage of $12 per hour, and the business operates under state labor laws.
Cultivating Sacred is raising funds to buy a small farm to grow food for the bakery, create job opportunities, and provide safe housing using tiny homes for women transitioning out of difficulty.
Connelly also is a licensed yoga teacher. She owns Wild Roots Yoga and Wellness and is co-owner of a boutique art store in town. The yoga studio and boutique store are independent, for-profit businesses and are not under the Cultivating Sacred nonprofit status.
Connelly said the community response to the bakery has been encouraging.
She said the Cultivating Sacred mission is to help fill a gap in services for women in trouble, like Kelsee Hoerschgen.
Connelly reached out to Hoerschgen, 31, after seeing a Facebook post about her struggles with homelessness and heroin in Cortez.
“They basically saved my life. I am nine months sober and have a new job at the bakery,” Hoerschgen said. “I had not worked for a while, and the financial stability is very much needed and appreciated.”
Hoerschgen has found a place to live, and the flexibility of the job allows her to continue social services appointments.
“It’s been a blessing. When I landed here, I did not know anyone. I was living on the street in winter,” she said. “Having the support of these women was key for me.”
She grows succulent plants, which are for sale at the Cultivating Sacred art gallery at 411 Central Ave.
The nonprofit Cultivating Sacred has provided jobs or assistance to five women, Connelly said. Assistance has included providing hotel rooms. The organization has reached out to local social service agencies about the program.
Connelly and Cates sometimes serve as listening posts around the coffee table. They offer a shoulder to cry on, work on providing a safe haven, then help direct women to a job and social services.
“They have gone through a lot of trauma – mental and physical – and we are here to help,” Connelly said.
Connelly said she understands the women’s experiences, because she also has recovered from abuse, stalking and trauma. She found healing and strength through the study and practice of yoga, and she shares that with others.
Cultivating Sacred wants to broaden the support network for women who are struggling, Connelly said.
“It’s not only about the illegal abuse, which gets more attention. Struggles stem from depression, homelessness, addiction, unhealthy relationships or a divorce. Suddenly a woman is on her own with no job skills or safe place to live. Every day, women in any class of society needs support.”
Three Chicks also helps abused women move out of unsafe homes and can contact the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office for a civil standby if needed, said Sheriff Steve Nowlin.
“I support what they are doing and will help in any way that I can,” he said. “We come upon women in need every day.”
The organization is looking for a donated truck to help with moving situations.
Providing a job, support and security is paramount.
“We will always make openings for women in need and create a more positive future,” Connelly said. “We are so excited to reach this milestone of starting up the bakery because it means we can help more women going through transition.”