Raising Dough for a DPS Family Struck with Tragedy

October 4, 2016                                                Matt Salis - Owner, Great Harvest Bread Co. of Denver


We all face challenges that we must struggle to overcome.  In the whole grain bread bakery business, the challenges can be anything from a broken wheat grinding mill to misinformed consumers.  As a parent of four, I also struggle to help my kids face their challenges.  Sometimes it feels like I am always fighting the uphill battle.  Then I hear a story like the one of a Denver Public Schools family of four, and my little challenges are yanked into perspective.  In comparison, I have never struggled a day in my blessed life.


It is a heart wrenching story of a mom and her three young boys.  The father is not in the picture.  Three boys without the benefit of the love of their father is sad enough, but it pales in comparison to the horror this family has endured.  The mom was a victim of one of the worst cases of domestic abuse I have every had the misfortune of hearing.  She very nearly died, has been left in a condition that prevents her from working for a living and has had to testify against her attacker reliving the nightmare.  The story is too vile and disturbing for me to write about it here.  I can’t get the thoughts of the tragic attack out of my head.  I wish I did not know the details.


In spite of the adversity that this family of four has faced, they have relied on each other and continue to work to get back on their feet.  They are homeless.  The three boys attend school in DPS.  They have been in and out of shelter programs.  The mom works tirelessly to care for her kids and to get them into a permanent living situation.  A home.  Something you and I take for granted.  Challenges?  Struggles?  I though I had some stuff to deal with.  Compared to the battle this woman is fighting to protect, nurture, educate and love her three boys, my everyday struggles are a blessing.


Denver Public School is doing its best to help this mom keep on the path to end the cycle of homelessness.  You see, within DPS is a little known and under-funded department of some of the most caring and loving people you will ever meet.  They are the DPS Homeless Education Network, and their mission is to support in any way possible the students in our school district who face the many real challenges of Homelessness.  Sheri and I met Anna and Jackie eleven years ago when we first teamed up – our bakery and their DPS department – to raise money for these families in need.  To me, the fact that Anna and Jackie are still working for DPS in the Homeless Education Network says all you need to know about the kind of people they are.  They have passed up opportunities for advancement or alternative careers to stay in a government job with limited resources and unlimited challenges because they want to…THEY NEED TO…make a difference for the kids in our community.  Their loyalty and tireless effort is why Sheri and I continue to partner with them for all these many years.



This is where you come in.  We knead your help with our 11th annual Whole Grains for Growing Brains fundraiser to benefit this family of four and other families served by the DPS Homeless Education Network.  Now through October 14th, you can buy bread at our 765 South Colorado Boulevard Great Harvest Bread Co. of Denver bakery for the families served by HEN.  Your purchase will help in two ways.  First, the bread you buy and donate will be distributed to the shelters where the homeless families in the HEN program temporarily reside.  Second, 100% of the sales dollars from your donation purchases (not the profit…every penny taken in) will be donated to the Homeless Education Network.  These homeless families receive nourishment from the bread you buy and the program will use the cash to help with bus passes, clothing, household necessities and the many other financial needs of families dealing with real struggles trying to survive.


The Denver South High School boy’s soccer C team that I coach is going to help Sheri and me bake all the bread that you pre-purchase.  On Saturday afternoon, October 15th, we are going to turn a group of hard working soccer players into a team of apprentice bakers and crank out as many loaves of Honey Whole Wheat as our loyal supporters have ordered.  It will be a great community service experience for a great group of young men, and it will give Sheri and me the support we need to make it happen.



Please help us spread the word about Whole Grains for Growing Brains 2016.  Forward this message, like our facebook page (facebook.com/greatharvestdenver), share our Instagram posts (greatharvestdenver), re-tweet our tweets (@GreatHarvestDen) and tell everyone you know how easy it is to help a family with real struggles.  You can buy bread for this program live in the bakery, or you can call with a credit card (303-778-8877) and we can take your order over the phone.  Loaves of the Honey Whole Wheat we will bake for this fundraiser are $6.25 each.  Just let us know how many you would like to contribute.  I have a POS app on my phone, so I can take your donation anywhere from the soccer field to the school playground.


I struggle with finding a part to fix a mixer or helping my kids with their math homework.  Some of their classmates struggle to have food to eat and a safe place to sleep at night.  This perspective is what makes Sheri and me feel compelled to use the resources we have – 30 year old bakery equipment, some wheat and honey and a network of friends with big hearts – and turn it into loaves of bread and some real dough to help our neighbors in need.  Please join us now through October 14th and help Anna and Jackie help a family of four who has dealt with more tragedy than most all of us could even imagine.  Thank you in advance for helping to spread the word, and thank you in advance for your financial support!

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Great Harvest Bread Co.

of Denver

765 South Colorado Boulevard

Denver, Colorado 80246



Open Mon. - Fri.  6am - 3pm

Sat. 8am - 3pm, Closed Sun.