Why are you all doing this?

Why are you all doing this? she asked, as I explained the House of Bread Project during her application interview.

Because we don’t want people to be afraid of you, I blurted, acknowledging the elephant in the room.

Thank you! she exclaimed, looking me straight in the eye for the first time.

It was a holy moment, one where the gap between us was narrowed by the hope of relationship. We can do this. We can’t solve the whole problem of recidivism or the reasons behind incarceration. But we can do this—standing beside, with, and for women seeking new skills and new relationships that will strengthen their capacity for honest work and healthy play. And we will all be changed—for the better—in the process.

For the past two weeks, we have baked and sold bread. We have mentored and been mentored. We have learned and laughed. We have hugged and looked each other in the eye. We have said yes to friendship and no to fear. We have felt great pride in producing beautiful loaves of bread. One of us has already landed a new job.

You have shown up at our bread stands, bought bread, and carried home a tangible expression of love, friendship, and grace. You have purchased t-shirts and tote bags. You have worn our caps. You have told your friends to come buy bread. You have spoken with students and volunteers. You have said,

Yes, I am with you. I believe!

Love does not keep to itself. Thank you for showing up; thank you students, volunteers, and all HOB patrons. You rock.

Jen Brothers