It is with great pleasure that my partner, Father Rick Curry, and I welcome you to the Georgetown opening of Dog Tag Bakery.
We employ, empower, train and support disabled veterans as they transition from the military into the civilian work force.
As in all great recipes there are essential ingredients:
1. Our partnership with the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies and other dedicated Veteran support organizations that help veterans as they build new careers, enter the larger business community or embark on their own small business ventures. By joining forces we are able to develop, test and form highly individualized programs so we can serve those, who have served and sacrificed so much for us, and our great country.
2. Our outstanding Dog Tag team and dedicated board.
3. We must also be reminded that our service men and women have spouses and families, and they too devote their lives to service. Strengthening military families is another essential ingredient in our recipe to ensure that our veterans will lead successful civilian lives.
Lastly, there is my partnership with Father Curry. We call ourselves a match made in heaven. I had a bakery and he had a bakery. He is a Jesuit Father, and I’m a Jewish God Mother.
Serendipity and many caring friends brought us together. After our prior forays into helping others, we came together because we know that we would blend our passions, working and teaching folks with disabilities, business and entrepreneurship and baking.
We hope that Dog Tag will be a supportive environment where our “fellows in training” will prosper and find all the ingredients they will need for success in all their future endeavors.
So, I will close by saying that our nation is blessed with veterans who are incredibly talented and diverse.
NO VETERAN WHO WANTS TO WORK, WHO WANTS TO HAVE A CAREER, SHOULD BE UNEMPLOYED.
That is why we are here today because we are determined to help them achieve their goals. We are determined to make a difference. That is why we are all so excited about BAKING A DIFFERENCE.
The men and women who risk their lives for our freedom deserve our unwavering support as they return to civilian life and begin their next chapter. Advocating for that belief has become a passion of mine, and for that reason, Father Rick Curry and I are proud to announce the grand opening of Dog Tag Bakery in Washington, D.C.
The transition from military to civilian life is not easy. My own father dealt with such challenges when he boarded a hospital plane to return to the United States in 1945. He told me about all the other veterans who rode back home with him in hammocks and on stretchers. I remember the day he showed me a dollar bill, which everyone on the plane had signed so they would always remember that trip and each other. When he passed away, my mother showed me his wallet that still contained the dollar bill. He had carried that dollar – and those memories – with him all those years.
It is because of my father, friends I lost in Vietnam, and those who continue to defend our freedom today that I am dedicated to our military and to helping empower and care for our military families.
After bonding over our love of baking a few years ago, Father Curry and I joined forces to create a program that draws on our personal and professional experiences of running successful businesses and nonprofit organizations, as well as serving the veterans community and persons with disabilities. Through Dog Tag Bakery, we hope to create a supportive environment so that the men and women who have given so much to their country can find success in a new and enriching chapter in their lives. We say that we’re ‘Baking a Difference’ which really sums up what we strive for every day – to empower our returning vets and their families with an education in entrepreneurship.
But this is so much more than a bakery. Dog Tag is also a work-study program that supports veterans by providing them with a high-quality business education in partnership with Georgetown University’s continuing education program. The proceeds from the bakery are reinvested in the education program so that more veterans can acquire the skills they need to build a successful civilian career.
The inaugural class of Dog Tag fellows was chosen in the spring of 2014. The class consisted of five men and five women, all with disabilities and either active duty or retired from serving with the Marines, Army and Navy. The class also included spouses and caregivers. This elite group of men and women embody a diverse range of ranks and decorations as well as expertise – from telecommunications to infantry and military police to ombudsman.
On November 19, seven members of the first fellowship class graduated with a certificate of Business Administration from Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. I couldn’t be more proud. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish as they put their skills to work and start pursuing their own entrepreneurial dreams. I also look forward to welcoming the second class of fellows in early 2015.
As we break bread on Saturday at our Georgetown store, we will welcome the community to taste free samples of our sweet and savory treats. But more importantly, we hope to inspire people to support our veterans however they can.