MEMPHIS, Tenn. — John Young, 24, is a cookie manager at Sweet LaLa’s Bakery on Poplar Avenue.
His role as team lead earned him the nickname “Dr. Sprinkles.”
“I come in, I make sure all dough gets made,” Young said. “I have to make sure we roll the cookies, we make them, make sure the frosting is made.”
Young said he loves working at the bakery, but just a few years ago his life was very different. At 17-years-old, he was placed in the Juvenile Intervention and Faith Based Follow-Up Program known as JIFF.
JIFF is a reentry program for juvenile offenders.
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“A lot of bad choices you know,” Young said. “I was lacking direction because you know I was a younger person and you know I was just going through the motions. I wasn’t living day to day with a purpose.”
Sweet LaLa’s Bakery Owner Lauren Young partnered with JIFF in 2014.
“We started the company inside of JIFF’s building where we leased the kitchen and kind of extended the program after the kids were graduating their JIFF program,” Lauren Young explained. “They were eligible to come work with me and we did part-time work.”
The bakery eventually outgrew the space. Sweet LaLa’s opened doors at its new location on Poplar Avenue in March. The bakery now partners with eight different nonprofits with mission to make life sweeter for all.
“We buy their product and we put it on our shelves and now that we’re six months old we’re working on having them come inside and tell their stories to our customers,” Lauren Young said.
Re-New-All Candles is one of the companies the bakery partners with. The candles are made by survivors of human trafficking.
“I think it’s amazing that our story is making it much further than us and it feels great that people care,” Human Trafficking Survivor Casondra Austin said.
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