Flour Power North Hills Has Some Big News … and a New Owner!
If your child was lucky enough to attend one of this summer’s weeklong-themed cooking camps like Iron Chef, Cake My Day, or Christmas in July, you may have already met Debbie Sawyer. Debbie is the proud new owner of the Flour Power North Hills Cooking Studio and has gotten to work immediately invigorating the studio and her budding chefs with a, “You can do anything!” attitude. Debbie told us she was inspired to become a franchisee of Flour Power because she was looking for an opportunity to really give back to her community and to create a place where everyone feels welcomed. And after many years in corporate America, she was also eager to show her young daughter that it’s possible to have a job that you love.
What’s Cooking at Flour Power North Hills?
The cooking studio will continue to offer culinary camps for kids during the summer and track-out periods, as well as birthday parties, corporate events, and Kids Night Out. But after receiving a phone call recently from the parent of an autistic child, Debbie realized she could be doing much more with her cooking studio, especially for the special needs community. She discovered through her interactions that the parents of these kids haven’t always had success in finding facilities that could accommodate their children, and she was determined to fix that any way she could.
Serving Up Some Fun for the Special Needs Community
Debbie began by starting a thread asking how to start a special needs program on a women’s business networking page on Facebook, and the response was overwhelming. Suddenly she was inundated with ideas, support for her idea, and connections, the first of which was to Jeanhee Hoffman, president of Gigi’s Playhouse of Raleigh. Gigi’s Playhouse is a national, nonprofit organization that welcomes and supports people of all ages with Down syndrome to reach their highest potential. Their custom, research-based curriculum works toward advancing literacy, math skills, gross and fine motor skills, building self-esteem, and preparing for the workforce, and all classes are free to students and parents.
1 Part Flour Power + 11 Parts Gigi’s Playhouse = A Delicious Pizza Date
After meeting Jeanhee, Debbie knew she was onto something, so she developed a pilot cooking class program for the North Hills location. The first class was created especially for Gigi’s Playhouse and took place on Saturday, Aug. 12, with eleven adults participating. Judging by the smiles on the chefs and the staffs’ faces when they were done making their personal pizza creations, it was a huge success.
Flour Power North Hills Wants to Keep Giving Back
After the success of the first Flour Power special needs program, Debbie wants to make sure that there are many more opportunities for all children or adults by offering birthday parties and other cooking events like this one. “The goal is to grow this, and Gigi’s was just the first step. [I want to] make Flour Power a place where everybody is happy and anybody can have fun!” Currently, all Flour Power locations hold one free class a month which has traditionally been geared toward the special needs community, but Debbie wants to do even more. “I’d like to reach out to the community in general, not just to the Down syndrome community, but to others as well. It’s a great teaching moment when the kids can get together from our traditional and special classes and learn from each other. I want my daughter and the other kids to see that we’re all people, and we’re all different. And it’s okay that we’re different, or that we look different or talk different.”
Debbie has many other plans for Flour Power, which includes creating programs for the senior community, another group she feels is being underserved by Flour Power North Hills. If you’d like to know more, you can always find out what Flour Power North Hills is up to by visiting the Flour Power Kids Cooking Studio Calendar of Events. Or visit the Facebook page where Debbie announces new programs and partnerships.