Dennis knows the rewards of patience. When it comes to baking bread, Dennis says, “If you rush the process, the product won’t turn out.”As Flourish Bakery’s self-declared, “bread guy,” he derives joy from a freshly-baked focaccia loaf, reveling in the slightly charred crust surrounding a soft interior. Even after spending ten years in federal prison, Dennis has a soft interior of his own. He shares, “At Flourish, I feel safe enough to cry, and I’ve also learned to laugh again.”
When he started working in his prison’s bakery, he traded tedious days for rigorous structure. Beginning each morning at 4am, Dennis spent long hours in the kitchen, learning the craft of baking. Police officers and other inmates recognized his natural skill. After his release, Dennis found a home in Flourish Bakery, where he furthered his passion for bread-making.
While Dennis rarely misses a day of work, his childhood was not marked by the same consistency. After losing his younger sister to leukemia, Dennis felt abandoned by two parents who struggled to process their grief. Dennis turned to substance use to escape his feelings of loss and loneliness. After forty years of addiction, he is becoming acquainted with his own self-worth through the skillset and community that he has gained at Flourish. Dennis is often the first to engage with new interns or volunteers, inspiring them with all that he has learned. Soon, Dennis will graduate from Flourish. While we will miss our “bread guy,” we are proud of Dennis for the passionate baker and leader that he has become.