Sunset Foods’ bakers step in to teach cake-decorating class for Nuestro Center
Edith Rojas of Sunset Foods distributes frosting to Celia De Lagarta of Glencoe (left to right), Modestra Rodriguez of Highwood and Maria Martinez of Highwood during a cake decorating class at the Nuestro Center. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 16, 2013 4:52PM
HIGHLAND PARK — Nuestro Center coordinator Elsi Rodriguez said she felt a sinking feeling in December when it appeared she would have to cancel a cake decorating class she’d set up at the request of some Latino mothers.
Not only had excitement been building in the weeks leading up to the class, participants already had purchased cake-decorating kits. Some expressed an eagerness to learn how to create rosebuds from butter-cream frosting or write congratulatory messages for an occasion.
But when a partner’s funding didn’t come through, Rodriguez braced herself for the let-down.
She perused volunteer websites in search of someone who could teach the class without compensation. She then reached out to Gail Hodges at her own agency, Family Service, asking for ideas.
“That was when Frank Lomoro of Sunset Foods stepped in,” said Hodges, the agency’s development director. “Frank graciously arranged for members of the Sunset staff to teach the class. Sunset is supplying all the cakes and all the supplies for the special frostings, as well as a volunteer translator from their staff to help with any necessary translation of the English instruction.”
There are 16 adults and two youngsters taking the Monday evening class, which started Jan. 28 and runs through Feb. 18.
Some of the mothers are learning cake-decorating for fun while others are using the class as a way to develop a new job skill.
“Some didn’t want to be sitting home alone doing nothing,” Rodriguez said.
The sole male in the class works at a restaurant and said the class would come in handy.
“When he told his bosses about the class, they encouraged him to take the course,” said Rodriguez.
Lomoro said it didn’t take any arm-twisting to recruit volunteers among the staff at Sunset Foods’ five locations.
“All it took was a phone call,” said Lomoro, who called Denise MacFarland, the stores’ bakery director. “They were eager to help out. They saw it as an opportunity to give back.”
Rodriguez said she’s seen a sense of pride in class members, who have been eager to show off their handiwork.
“After they write a letter, it’s ‘come look at my job’,” she said. “They remind me of the kids.”