When Hurricanes Irma and Maria slammed into Puerto Rico two years ago, Pan Pepin survived practically without a scratch. In fact, the bakery was one of the first businesses to resume production on the island and in addition to servicing its customers, provided bread to many people who had lost their homes and, in some cases, everything they owned.
As it has done in the past, the industry was quick to call Pan Pepin to see what it could do for the bakery, its employees and their communities. Although he was touched by the outpouring of offers to help, Mario Somoza, president of Pan Pepin, explained that the limited resources on the island made it difficult for anyone outside those essential to the relief efforts to get in and participate. That’s where BEMA found a more effective way to help.
Kerwin Brown, president and chief executive officer of BEMA, promoted a GoFundMe.com page, where the association’s members could make monetary contributions to help workers who suffered personal losses such as damage to their homes.
“Kerwin was focused on ‘How can we help your people, your employees who suffered losses?’” Mr. Somoza told Baking & Snack editor Joanie Spencer for her May report on the bakery. “So, we started a YouCaring.com page, and people could donate to that with funds toward helping our employees. And the company matched that dollar for dollar.”
Between donations from BEMA members and bakery partners along with Pan Pepin’s dollar-for-dollar match, $100,000 was raised to help employees who were affected by the hurricanes. It’s reassuring to know that, in troubled times, bakers can get by with a little help from their friends.