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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Darrell Price and the Peanut Brittle Project

[One of Darrell's pencil drawings]

I’ll remember Christmas, 2010, as the year of the peanut brittle project. 

     My older sister Fannie Mae had always made some of this delicacy every year for friends and members of her family, following the same hand-written recipe our Amish mother had always used. But in the fall of 2010, my sister learned she had an aggressive form of breast cancer, resulting in her having a mastectomy which, while successful and with encouraging results, left her unable to make our usual holiday treat. 

     About this same time, some of us on the board of Gemeinschaft Home, a residential recovery and re-entry program for ex-offenders, were looking at some possible enterprises that would help provide some work for unemployed or underemployed residents, always a challenge for persons with prison records. 

     So with candy on my mind, I began to think, what if we could have a resident or two at Gemeinschaft make some peanut brittle? Initially it was an idea my sister dismissed as unwise, given how difficult it is to make the product come out just right, like our mother would make it. But when I mentioned this to the program director he immediately suggested I talk with Darrell Price, an experienced cook who was currently in search of work.

     It turned out Darrell, also an accomplished artist, was willing to give it a try. After several failed attempts, he finally got the tricky process of peanut brittle manufacturing down to a science, and with some advertising over some of my email address lists--along with some word of mouth promotion--he was able to produce and market a total of 45 pounds of what we labeled “Fannie Mae Yoder's Peanut Brittle” (not to be confused with the Fanny May candy brand), packaged in half-pound Ziploc bags. Within a ten day period of time, he had made and sold a total of $270 worth, with an overhead of of just under $50. 

     It felt good, even to my sister, to see a project succeed that added a little extra holiday blessing to people, including myself, who got to sample some of the product from time to time.

    Strictly for purposes of quality control, of course.

P. S. As a strong believer in the mission of Gemeinschaft Home, I urge you to become a "Friend of Gemeinschaft" by writing a generous check of $50 or more and mailing it to Gemeinschaft Home, 1423 Mt. Clinton Pike, Harrisonburg, VA 22802. Or you can contribute online at http://www.gemeinschafthome.com to help recovering people get a new start.

Thanks for your help! 
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