Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bakery Sweetens Existing Mentoring Program

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bakery Sweetens Existing Mentoring Program

Article excerpt

Wesley Lyons admits he's not much of a dessert person.

So the fact the former wide receiver who signed twice with the Pittsburgh Steelers is opening a bakery on Saturday at The Waterfront shopping center in Homestead might seem like a nutty idea. He'll tell you it makes perfect sense.

What the North Braddock native is sweet on, he says, is helping disadvantaged youth reach their potential through the educational/mentoring program he established in 2013, after finding success as an author and motivational speaker.

Called "The Pursuit," the life skills program teaches high-risk students in grades six through 12 strategies to overcome obstacles and succeed in life. Along with decision-making, goal-setting and time management skills, the curriculum helps kids plan for future jobs and careers. That is where the new bakery, which he co-owns with longtime friend and business partner Amber Greene, comes in.

Along with five bakers, including one Mr. Lyons "borrowed" from a small shop in Duquesne, the staff includes four of his program's participants, who'll do everything from building pastry boxes, working the registers and waiting on customers, to taking out the garbage.

It was actually the teens who asked Mr. Lyons to be hired and not vice versa, and the store started taking shape this spring after two years of planning.

A number of students wanted to be involved in the venture. Those who didn't get the job have been volunteering just so they could get real world experience in retail, hospitality and food service.

"It's such a positive thing. Their bikes are always back there," Mr. Lyons says, referring to the store's back door. "They just want to be around to help."

The idea for a bakery grew out of the dessert tastings Mr. Lyons has held over the years to promote The Pursuit. As the program has expanded over the past four years (it now counts more than 250 students from 14 schools), he started thinking about ways the kids could put the skills they were learning to use. Some sort of retail operation was a natural, but only if the kids could easily get to it after school or on weekends. …

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