RICHMOND, Va. — Tablespoons Bakery recently rolled out the red carpet for what might be the sweetest Zoom meeting in the area.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to make you some edible cookie dough," Kamani Turton-Jones said.
The bakery teamed up with Jacob's Chance, which helps teens and young adults with disabilities flourish through a variety of activities like in-person and online enrichment classes.
"We're real excited to do a vocational program making edible cookie dough," said Kelsey Dunn of Tablespoons Bakery.
The virtual group learned from Tablespoons baking experts like Turton-Jones.
"Kamani is one of our bakers, and he is really great talking through the steps when you're baking because there is a lot of chemistry in that," Dunn said.
Kate Mardigan, the founder of Jacob's Chance, said the one-hour sessions steer members through dance, art, music and culinary courses.
"We started this when COVID first hit," Mardigan said. "It's well-rounded. We're well-rounded because we're hitting every aspect of life, whether it is fitness. Sometimes we do language."
Mardigan said the classes help grow independence one cookie, song or painting at a time.
"If they can go into the kitchen and do it and say, 'No Mom I've got this, go in the other room,' that is a confidence builder," Mardigan said.
The nonprofit is named after Jacob Leonard, the son of Mardigan's friend who lived with severe disabilities during his short life.
"Every single day I walk into my office and see that smiling face [on a poster] and I know what exactly I'm supposed to do," Mardigan said.
Jacob lives on in every person who joins the group.
The enrichment classes offered year-round also connect people who would otherwise be isolated.
"There was lots of laughter going on. Lots of questions, very good questions being asked. But lots of silliness," Mardigan said.
Dunn said accepting the invite to partner with Jacob's Chance was an easy decision.
"Also, there is the opportunity for us to come together as a community make new friends and foster friendships," Dunn said.
These two groups are proving teamwork makes the cookie work.
In Tablespoon's no-bake course, flour, butter, sugar and salt were essential. But the main ingredients at Jacob's Chance are a pinch of love and a cup of inclusion.
"We're removing boundaries and making sure that every opportunity is available for those we serve," Mardigan said.
This story was originally published by Greg McQuade on Scripps station WTVR in Richmond, Virginia.