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Alison Haupt Bushman ’94

For Alison Haupt Bushman ’94, service is just one act of random kindness.

“When it comes to service, I believe everybody has something to give,” she said.  “You can change a life with one small act.”

That is exactly what Bushman is doing.  The psychology graduate, along with her twin teenage daughters, Emma and Amy, runs a Cincinnati-based non-profit organization called Bake Me Home that grew from the twins’ desire to do more to help the homeless family shelter where they had volunteered together for three years.

Founded in 2008 by the then-7-year-old twins and Bushman, the organization began with The Tote Bag Program, where the trio would send home a bag with a jar of oatmeal chocolate chip cookie mix, necessary baking supplies (such as a bowl, pan, spoon, baking sheet, potholder, spatula), toothbrushes and toothpaste, a family cookbook, and a Kroger gift card for butter and eggs with families leaving the shelter.  This gift would provide children the opportunity to celebrate moving out of the shelter and into a home of their own by baking together as a family, just like the twins so loved to do themselves.  From the inception of this program, which currently serves over 800 families per year from four Ohio counties, Bake Me Home grew into a multi-faceted non-profit that reaches thousands of people a year.

Bake Me Home has expanded their reach to include programs such as the Picture Me Home Program, that preserve memories for kids in crisis by providing free, framed, 5×7 portraits; the Bake Me BACK Home Program, that sends cookies to service members overseas and local veterans; and the Bake It Forward Program, that challenges kids to do good deeds for others.  The Tote Bag Program is also preparing for an expansion to provide bakery bags of cookies to welcome local refugees to Cincinnati.

Bushman acquired the service bug while a student at Wesleyan.  She was an active participant in the American Lung Association philanthropy projects through Alpha Xi Delta, volunteered at the Community Mental Health Center Day Program, and was a reading buddy to a first grade student at East Main Elementary School.

“As a volunteer reading buddy, I learned that you can change someone’s life without knowing it,” Bushman recalls.  “I read to a first grade girl who could barely sit still and never remembered my name.  I thought she did not care that I was even there.  At the end of the year, I received a thank you letter from her mom saying how much her daughter talked about me all year.  I was stunned. I have tried to remember since then that all the good stuff still makes a difference, even when you never receive a letter.”

Wesleyan helped shape Bushman’s perspective on service, as well as gave her leadership skills to support both a charity and her daughters’ goals.

“A lot of what I learned about leadership came from my experiences at Wesleyan,” she stated.  “I would like to say it was my successes at Wesleyan that made me a good leader, but I think my failures helped me more.  Learning young about the pitfalls of failing to delegate have served me well in building an organization that manages 700 volunteers per year.”

However, as the saying goes, it takes a village to accomplish so much.  To date, the trio has distributed over 2,700 tote bags and over 1,200 portraits to families in crisis, and has shared more than 15,000 cookies with our military.

“The success of Bake Me Home would not be possible without the incredible support we have received from our community of volunteers and donors,” Bushman said.

In 2016, Amy and Emma Bushman were honored with the 2016 Enquirer Emerging Young Woman Award which recognizes rising stars in community service and volunteerism.

For more information about Bake Me Home’s programs and how you can help support their mission, visit their website at bakemehome.org or contact them via email at cookiegirls@bakemehome.org.