Texas Homeless Network recently presented Jennifer Laurent, Executive Director of Randy Sams’ Outreach Shelter, and Cathy Smith, Bakery Program Director, with the Outstanding Community Service Award for the Be the Blessing Bakery.

The award was presented on Wednesday, September 21, as part of the annual Texas Conference on Ending Homelessness held in Austin. Nominator David Orr wrote, “Be the Blessing Bakery is a program of the Randy Sams’ Outreach Shelter. Participants in the cooking class have shown such tremendous aptitude and love for baking that Cathy Smith, community advocate, professional caterer, and all around great person, agreed to oversee the program.”

Bakery Program Director, Cathy Smith, volunteered with Randy Sams’ for about 18 months and started teaching cooking classes for residents to help build skills and learn to cook once they were out on their own in housing. The Bakery program grew from that volunteer activity and she became the bakery program director.

Be the Blessing provides jobs by employing individuals experiencing homelessness or who have been homeless in the past. It also provides additional funding that goes to help support emergency shelter operations at Randy Sams’ Outreach Shelter.

“And it provides some really extraordinary food for the community,” Orr adds.

“Be the Blessing Bakery is changing the conversation about homelessness in our community and providing innovative solutions to ending homelessness.” If you are in Texarkana, you can find the 'Blessing crew' at the Farmer's Market and numerous festivals including the Taste of Texarkana providing baked goods, cupcakes, cookies, BBQ sauce and their already famous bread pudding.

You can follow them on their Facebook page. Congratulations to Jennifer Laurent, Cathy Smith, and Be the Blessing Bakery for their outstanding community service.

Texas Homeless Network presents the outstanding awards in the categories of Community Service, Community Organization, and Case Manager at the Texas Conference on Ending Homelessness to recognize individuals, organizations, companies, and non-profit agencies in Texas that are making a difference in the lives of individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The annual conference brings together educators, homeless service providers, and state and government officials to collaborate on ways to meet the needs of the thousands of women, children and men experiencing homelessness in our communities.