Special Kneads and Treats opened their doors at the new, larger facility in Lawrenceville on August 1, 2017. The bakery, previously located in a storefront space for three and one-half years on the Historic Lawrenceville Square, moved into an expansive 12,000-square-foot building located at 156 Scenic Highway, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30046.
The non-profit organization co-founded by Michael and Tempa Kohler was started for their son, Bradley, now twenty-seven years old, who has special needs. “We began Special Kneads and Treats so that he had a place where he could be able to work,” said Tempa. “My husband and I decided that we’d open a bakery. The Lord had other plans for it. When things began to take off, we started employing other special-needs adults.”
The main part of the non-profit mission is to ensure that any child in Gwinnett County that can’t afford a birthday cake can get one through Special Kneads and Treats. “We work with sixteen different agencies within Gwinnett County to get birthday cakes into the hands of all the foster care children, local food co-ops, and organizations that rescue women and children from human trafficking.” Tempa explained, “There are approximately 800 foster care children in Gwinnett County, and we’re only able to reach out to 200 of them.”
As demand for their sweet treats and services increased, Special Kneads and Treats quickly outgrew their space. The former 300-square-foot kitchen wasn’t able to provide enough task space for the wheelchair-bound employees. Michael added, “This morning, six stainless steel, adjustable tables were delivered. A hand-crank allows the tables to be raised or lowered to accommodate those employees in wheelchairs or to allow others to stand and work. Staff, who require wheelchairs or walkers, are now able to maneuver around comfortably in the new 2,600-square-foot kitchen.”
“We have sixteen special-needs employees, five mainstream staff to include my wife and me, four special-needs volunteers, and almost 160 prospective special-needs adults seeking employment that are on our first-come-first-serve waiting list.” While some of the special-needs staff come to work with their own job coach, the Kohler’s vision is to employ a job coach for the bakery.
Donations are vital. As a non-profit organization, Special Kneads depends on financial support from the community. The bigger, long-term vision is to utilize the facility as a distribution center and outsource their baked goods to other storefronts across the country. “People are always asking us to come to Dacula, Suwanee, Tennessee, or Texas. We’d love to have our stores everywhere and go to those places.” However, growth and expansion require funding. Michael breaks down the numbers. “We have 13,000 Followers on Facebook. If every Follower just gave one dollar a month, that would provide us with $13,000 each month. Every donation matters. A twenty dollar donation means that a special-needs employee can receive a paycheck for almost three hours of work. A seven dollar donation can cover the cost of a birthday cake.”
Tempa explained that donations could also be in the form of consumable goods. “We accept donations of all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, pudding mixes (i.e. vanilla, chocolate, sugar-free vanilla or chocolate puddings), peanut butter, pecans, honey, and even sprinkles.”
The Special Kneads bakery produces delectable treats to include decadent cupcakes, personalized birthday cakes, heavenly cheesecakes, specialty cookies, and their scrumptious white chocolate-covered, puffed corn treat – “Choc Corn.”
The hours for Special Kneads and Treats is Monday: closed; Tuesday - Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm; Sunday: “Closed for God and family.”
For more information, to make a difference with a donation, or to sponsor a birthday cake, visit: http://www.specialkneadsandtreats.org.