(MIAMI) — A Miami baker is using her culinary skills to give back on Mother’s Day.
Sherronda Daye, 41, is a mother of two daughters, an 11- and 21-year-old. She’s also the owner of Sweet Jalane’s, a dessert-catering company; Defense Tea, which sells locally sourced immune-boosting drinks; and the Sweet Exchange, which hosts events to provide food for those in need and to address social issues.
In honor of Mother’s Day, she launched the 100 Cakes in 10 Days project, where, for every bundt cake purchased, another will be donated to families that have lost children. The goal is to donate at least 100 cakes in the time leading up to the holiday.
While the cakes are always given to families that have lost a child, the circumstances surrounding it vary, and each year Daye partners with a different organization to accomplish the task. This year, she’s working with the nonprofit Miami Children’s Initiative, which will give the cakes to families whose children have died from gun violence or illness.
“We just kind of look at what’s happening in the world, and where the most loss or the most impact can be given,” Daye told “Good Morning America.”
The inspiration for the project is personal, Daye said. Her own mother, Sherron Jalane Wilder, unexpectedly passed away in 2014. At first, grief, Daye said, demoralized her at work, but in 2016, she took the pain of loss and used it to move forward.
“I remembered a letter that I found in my mother’s Bible when I was cleaning up her things after she passed. That letter told me to never stop doing this, that I had finally found my purpose in life — making somebody’s life better,” Daye said. “And so I was like, okay, it’s Mother’s Day. If I’m feeling this grief, and I’m grown, there has to be other mothers and other people, right?”
Upon remembering the letter, Daye realized there were 10 days left until Mother’s Day and came up with the idea for the project. She has been doing it every year since.
“It’s just simply my way to connect with my mom on Mother’s Day, because I am mothering my own children while I’m motherless,” Daye said. “So when it gets around this time of year, I have a choice. I can wallow in my grief or I can use my bitterness to make somebody else’s life sweeter.”
Daye doesn’t have a formal education in the culinary arts — she has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and psychology and an MBA in health service administration — and used to work as a chief of staff for a county commissioner until 2010, until they lost a reelection bid.
“Here I was, without an idea of what to do. I was in the garage praying and I just felt the need to go in the kitchen and bake. And I was like, this is a joke. I don’t bake,” Daye said. “But I got out of their car, went in the kitchen, and baked all day. I baked everything I could get my hands on.”
She added: “I don’t really know where this baking thing comes from. Food was and is just a way that our family has always connected, whether it’s over a pot of gumbo, a fish fry, or crab or crawfish boil.”
What initially started as a coping mechanism turned into Daye’s means of survival and purpose?
“Anybody will get up every day and do a job that they feel is truly connected to their purpose and to the whole reason why you were placed on this Earth,” she said. “I just truly believe that I found it. Baking opens the door for me to get in the room and do what it is I need to do. And I wouldn’t trade this for the world.”
It’s important to Daye that she uses her skills to give back to the community at large.
“I want to leave this life empty, meaning anything that I had inside of me that was supposed to be given to someone else, I gave it,” she said. “Empty yet full because in return I will receive everything that I’m supposed to have. It’s just really who I am, and it has worked for me for 41 years. So I guess I better keep doing it.”
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