West Michigan is a community full of special people who have dedicated their lives to helping others. Most of them do their work quietly and don’t get the recognition they deserve.
WOOD TV8 wants to highlight the good work they are doing, which is why we’ve launched a series called Community Spotlight. Each month, we’ll feature an organization or a non-profit that’s doing outstanding things in our community.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There’s always something cooking at Stir It Up bakery.
The idea came to Zoe Bruyn while she was attending Grand Valley State University. As a youth group leader for people with disabilities, Bruyn noticed her friends couldn’t get paying jobs.
“Nearly 75% of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unemployed. So that’s why I started Stir It Up,” Bruyn said. When I first started, I was actually out of my parents’ residential home kitchen under the cottage law, and we sold weekly at West Michigan Miracle League in Rockford.”
To secure funding, Bruyn combined her passion for helping others with her business degree, and a dash of determination.
I did Start Garden’s 5×5 night, a lot of Grand Valley’s business competitions. I travelled to Texas, across the state to win funding to essentially grow the business,” Bruyn said.
Now they’re a team of six, operating out of their own space.
“We have a great team. We are small but I’m proud that all of them are paid,” Bruyn said, “And to be able to have our kitchen has just been amazing.”
It has become a place for cookies, cupcakes and careers.
“It provides a sense of belonging, a sense of self-worth, pride, something to do every day and I believe individuals with disabilities want the same thing,” Bruyn said. “They want a job and they have the abilities and skills to do it.”
It’s a recipe for success, no matter how you stir it up.
You can find Stir It Up bakery products at both Bridge Street Market and Kingma’s Market. They also take custom orders.
If you know someone who should be in the spotlight, send details in an email to email@example.com.