BREAKING: Friendship Circle To Purchase Beloved Dakota Bread Company to Create Career Opportunities for Adults with Special Needs

Friendship Circle is thrilled to announce their plan to purchase West Bloomfield’s own Dakota Bread Company, well-loved throughout the community for its award-winning challah! While everyone’s favorite challah recipe will remain unchanged, Friendship Circle has exciting plans in store. The bakery will run a training program for adults with special needs to teach them life skills including time management, organization, customer service and more – with the goal of trainees becoming employees in the future. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the bakery’s reopening will take place Oct. 20 at 11 a.m.

Dakota Bread will finalize the purchase and close Oct. 16-18 to transition to a menu kosher-certified by the Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Greater Detroit. Friendship Circle confirms that all challah ingredients are kosher and the recipe will NOT change. The community is invited to attend a drive-through open house on Oct. 25 from noon to 3:00 p.m. Attendees will celebrate by driving through various stations – including a video about the bakery pilot program, challah dough to bake in your own oven, a bakery-themed craft for families to do at home and limited-edition gifts. RSVP for the bakery drive through: friendshipcircle.org/dakotaopenhouse

It all started in 2015 when Friendship Circle co-founders Levi Shemtov and Bassie Shemtov recognized that many children in Friendship Circle programming had since grown into adults experiencing loneliness and isolation. They yearned for a sense of purpose and community. That’s when Friendship Circle decided to create employment opportunities to help adults with special needs become integrated community members.

In the beginning, Friendship Circle created two pilot programs – the Soul Studio Art Program and a bakery vocational program. After the pilots were very successful, the Soul Café and Soul Café Training Program were born, thanks to the generosity of the Farber family and the Dresner Foundation. However, some trainees who participated in the original bakery pilot program didn’t transition to the new Soul Café Training Program because the two programs required different skill sets. Instead, a long-term plan to open a bakery to train and employ these individuals developed. This initiative was led by Ron Hodess, chairman of Friendship Circle’s board, who recognized the gap in Friendship Circle’s services. Divine providence intervened, and the perfect opportunity arose to purchase Dakota Bread Company, rather than build a bakery from scratch.

“We are purchasing Dakota Bread Company because we saw the opportunity to further our mission of helping adults with special needs find job training opportunities at the bakery,” said Bassie Shemtov, Friendship Circle co-founder. “The most important thing you can do for individuals with special needs is to fill their day with purpose in a way that includes them in the community, and this bakery will do exactly that. Dakota Bread Company is a well-known and admired business in the community, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to build upon that legacy and become even more ingrained in the metro Detroit community.”

Friendship Circle will retain all 11 employees of Dakota Bread Company. The current staff will continue in their respective roles, in addition to helping train adults with special needs. Shalom Shomer, current director of Soul Cafe and its catering divisions, Epic Kosher and Milk & Honey, will direct the bakery. Friendship Circle will hire an additional staff member to manage the bakery training program.

To support this initiative, please email [email protected] or call 248-788-7878 x201. Learn more about our mission at friendshipcircle.org.

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