“Everyone Needs to be Needed”
Even before their eyes meet in the delivery room, mothers vow to make sacrifices for their children. Some give everything to ensure their sons and daughters have every opportunity imaginable.
Some give even more.
Few could provide better cause to celebrate the annual occasion of Mother”s Day than the mom of Bradley Kohler. Every day that Tempa Kohler sees Bradley working at her bakery is a day she sees a young man brimming with gratitude.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Bradley—a local 24 year old with special needs—comes in to start his shift. He grabs a bottle of Windex. He polishes the windows, damp cloth squeaking against the glass as the morning crowd files in for their sugar fix.
Making his way toward the cupcake case, Bradley offers a smile and a nod to the customers in line. Above all else, he wants them to feel as welcome as he does at Special Kneads and Treats. He wants them to feel like they belong. Bradley knows that “everyone needs to be needed.” His mother taught him that when she opened the eatery.
“People need to know they”ve got a place to come where everything they do means something,” said Tempa, who recently opened the non-profit restaurant Special Kneads and Treats. “They need a sense of worth.”
Located in downtown Lawrenceville, the business provides job skills training to adults like Bradley who have special needs. Tempa and husband Michael purchased the Crogan Street space—former home of Sweets on the Square—in January.
Prior to that, it was nothing more than a dream. Four years ago, she and her husband found themselves uncertain about Bradley”s future. “We started trying to think about what we could do for Bradley, because pretty soon, he was going to age-out of the school system,” she said.
Gwinnett County Public Schools provides special education and psychological services for students aged 3-21. When individuals turn 22, they “age-out” and are no longer eligible.
“We moved to Gwinnett County because of the services they offer, which are really great,” Tempa said. “But whenever students reach that age, that”s when parents start going, “well, what are we going to do?””
The answer was clear for the Kohler Family, but it took some doing first and a whole heap of faith.
” People need to know they”ve got a place to come where everything they do means something”
“We started praying, asking God if this bakery idea was really the direction he wanted us to take,” Tempa said. “We knew we wanted to do it, but we just didn”t think we could make it happen. It was going to take a lot of money.”
They considered the possibility for two years before finally applying for nonprofit status. “A friend of a friend of a friend” told Tempa about the location on Crogan Street.
With the help of donations and the nonprofit status, the family opened their bakery on Jan. 23.
“Making it a nonprofit bakery was essential, because we wanted a place where Bradley could work, and we wanted other special needs adults to be able to work here too,” she said. “I never thought that several months later we would have 16 great helpers here.”
The volunteers and workers at Special Kneads do everything from greeting guests to sweeping the floors. With the help of job coaches and supervisors, they also assist in the kitchen. That means scooping batter for birthday cake, sprinkling a sugary garnish on baked goods, and mixing the ingredients for a customer favorite: “Choc Corn,” which is puffed corn with chocolate.
Helping with the Choc Corn is a point of pride for Bradley. He”s the first to offer up samples to clientele. Employees and volunteers of Special Kneads learn the feeling of satisfaction that comes with a job well done.
Pat Satterfield said her son, Blake, 22, has gained a wealth of confidence. “It”s the sense of being capable,” Pat said. “It”s not just at Special Kneads either. He has started doing things around the house without being asked, and he really wants to help us out. I believe in what this place is doing for him.”
Alex Kowalewski, 24, said the local eatery has been a good fit. “I”ve been trying to look for something like this,” he said, adding that he has made many friends at Special Kneads. “It”s a nice place, and I like being able to help out.”
Job Coach Terry Bradbury who helps 33-year-old Sallie Waldrop on the job said the local woman has enjoyed her tenure there as well. “Tempa is very observant,” Bradbury said. “She sees whatever level at which they can perform, and she gives them each the perfect spot on her staff.”
Tory Veale, 23, has also found his niche at Special Kneads. “It”s good to work here,” Veale said. “It”s really cool, and everybody is nice.”
Veale especially enjoys greeting the customers, much like his buddy Bradley. And much like Bradley, the 16 adults with special needs who work at the local bakery understand the value of appreciation.
“Thanks” isn”t always a verbal offering. The employees of Special Kneads can give credit to customers—and sometimes to their moms—through their actions.
Blake tells his mother Pat he appreciates her by showing initiative in his chores at home. And as he wipes streaks from the windows and helps bake treats in the kitchen, Bradley shows his mother a wealth of gratitude too.
“Everyone needs to be needed,” Tempa said. It”s a valuable lesson she taught her son with the opening of Special Kneads. And with loving eyes and a bright smile, Bradley never misses a chance to tell her how much he appreciates it.
The staff at Special Kneads are pretty awesome, and their sweets are too. Check out some of their best sellers!
Offered in its original chocolatey flavor, Choccorn is made fresh everyday.
Made to order for wedding, anniversary, birthday, showers.
Choose from 22 different flavors daily!
Chocolate chip, white chocolate macadamia, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter and jumbo peanut butter cup.
Traditional and other varieties which change on a daily basis. Favorites include butterfigner and mint chocolate chip.
Made in almost any shape and flavor.
Special Kneads is located at 138 E. Crogan St., Lawrenceville. For more information, visit www.specialkneadsandtreats.com or call 678 237-7147.