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Rise Up Village Bakery Serves Community

You hear a lot about second chances and how rare they actually are, especially for individuals who have spent time in prison. To compound this problem, recidivism rates are high, as many people who serve their time quickly relapse into the type of behavior that landed them in prison in the first place. This is largely because they simply lack the skills necessary to function in society. As a friend once told me, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” That’s where Marty and Wendy McCormick come in. The McCormicks are the managers of the Rise Up Village Bakery, which operates out of the New Covenant United Church of Christ in Williamsport and is a ministry of United Churches of Lycoming County. Having heard of the great work that Marty and Wendy were doing for the community, I reached out to ask them more about their ministry, which pairs up justice-involved individuals with community volunteers. In addition to helping those who have been previously incarcerated, it also produces top-quality breads, muffins, and cookies on a weekly basis. To say it’s been a success is an understatement. In fact, the ministry has grown so fast that they recently purchased a machine that will help them make 300 cookies a minute! I reached out to Marty and Wendy McCormick to ask them more about the bakery and their ministry.

Dave: Please tell me the main purpose of the bakery.

Marty/Wendy: The purpose of the bakery is to assist people who are returning to the community from incarceration to be reconnected to the community and help them learn basic job-related skills and gain self-confidence.

Dave: When did you first start the bakery?

Wendy: We began in February 2022 and accepted the first trainees in May 2022.

Dave: How did this all come about?

Wendy: The idea resulted from Marty’s volunteer time at the Clinton County prison. He began researching ways in which returning citizens could be supported upon release. Finding employment was a key problem. His research led him to job training programs around the country, and he learned that food service was a major employer of previously incarcerated individuals. He modeled his idea for the Rise Up Village Bakery after several established programs.

Dave: What exactly do you and your clients do at the bakery?

Wendy: We help the trainees learn the “soft skills” necessary to be successful in any job setting. This includes focusing on attitude, attendance, appropriate behaviors, and quality performance. Marty provides instruction in job search strategies. The volunteers and trainees work together as a team to produce numerous baked products “from scratch.” The baking process includes measurement, mixing, baking, packaging, and clean-up. Everyone participates equally in the tasks.

Dave: What do you hope to accomplish with the bakery in the long term?

Marty: We want to be open more days and hours to train more individuals. We are currently able to provide baked goods for special events. A long-term goal would be to operate a bakery/café so the participants could learn how to run a business and work with the public. This expansion is dependent upon more volunteer staff, as there are no paid employees.

Dave: When is the bakery open, and how does the community get involved and/or patronize it?

Marty/Wendy: We currently bake on Mondays and Tuesdays. We send a “menu” each week to people on our customer list. Orders are emailed to us, and the baked goods are picked up on Tuesday afternoon. To receive the weekly notice, people can sign up via email. We also bake extras for the “overflow table” and walk-ins and are able to select from those items. The sale of our products is the program’s primary funding source. We have also received donations from businesses, churches, and individuals.

Dave: Please tell me where people can buy your baked goods or volunteer if they are interested.

Marty/Wendy: We are a ministry of the United Churches of Lycoming County, UCLC. We lease the kitchen in the New Covenant United Church of Christ, 202 E. 3rd St., in Williamsport. We can be contacted via email at or by phone (Marty) 570-295-8434 or (Wendy) 570-419-9303. You can also follow us on Facebook. We are always looking for more volunteers, particularly those who have baking experience. We have a core group of incredible volunteers, but we need more help so that we can extend our hours. This program has been a blessing to our volunteers and our trainees. We support one another and work together in a spirit of fellowship and

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