Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and a few reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.


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Recycled Sari Flower Making Class–Experience Adventure 27 of 100

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For our 27th experience adventure, my daughters and I took an artisan’s apprentice class and learned how to create decorative flowers using recycled sari fabrics from Bangladesh.

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Like so many of our adventures, this experience taught us a lot more than just a fun crafting process.

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The class was offered at Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit, social enterprise that I accidentally found during one of my Google “fall-down-a-rabbit-hole” searches.  I previously knew nothing about it.

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So, let me share what we learned (above and beyond making fabric flowers).

Ten Thousand Villages began in 1946 and continues to grow over 390 retail outlets and alliances all across the United States, including the one we visited in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

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These not-for-profit establishments carry home décor, jewelry, accessories, tea, furniture, art, soaps, and spices–all created by 130 artisan groups, representing 38 developing countries.

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As a fair trade, globally-focused, social enterprise, Ten Thousand Villages employs very few people– in fact, the store we visited only keeps 2 or 3 people on salary.  The other 30+ “employees” are volunteers that greet and interact with customers, help with unpacking and displaying orders and run the cash register.  It is a wonderful, thought-provoking and very forward-thinking business model.

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Almost all of the beautifully and skillfully handcrafted items are displayed with an informational sign about the artist, village or country.

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Purchases improve the lives of over 20,000 makers, allowing access to better food, shelter and housing, appropriate healthcare and opportunities for education.

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Ten Thousand Villages also verifies that represented artists and craftspeople create in a safe working environment, where each human is treated with dignity and respect in an ethical and responsible system.  Fair trade focuses on stability, paying a fair income to individuals, empowering women and improving the lives of all people.

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The more exposure I receive to these world changing social enterprises, the more I prefer to give my business to establishments that make a difference in the life of others.

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A list of all Ten Thousand Villages stores and alliances (stores that carry products) can be found on the website at www.tenthousandvillages.com. Search by zip code or state and find one near you!

 

For my Texas friends, full retail stores are located in Austin and San Antonio, with alliances in McKinney, The Woodlands and Magnolia!  Who knew?!?

Pennsylvania boasts 11 stores and 3 alliances.  AWESOME!

The store we visited is located at 701 Gettysburg Pike, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, 17055.  Open Monday-Friday 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and closed on Sundays.  For more info call 717-796-1474.

They offer other artisan apprentice workshops, so follow them on Facebook for updates!

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We originally learned about social enterprise from one of our earlier adventures to a local candy shop.  The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe houses the Stroopie Co., a family-owned company hiring refugee women and providing meaningful work for people who are forced to flee their countries due to famine, war and instability.

Read about this AMAZING company here.

 

 

 

 


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The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe and Stroopie Co.–Experience Adventure 7 of 100

I love to plant seeds.  Literally and figuratively.  The process of tending to a tiny treasure, watching it develop, grow and evolve, patiently waiting and working towards the moment when it transitions into what it was always meant to become–I find this metamorphosis fascinating and fulfilling–the fundamental process of my gardening, parenting and choosing to homeschool.

I love when one life experience leads to another journey which then plants a seed that leads to research which evolves into passion and results in action.  Essentially, this is why I do what I do and why I created this goal of 100 experience adventures for my two daughters.  The figurative “seeds” planted by this journey, might develop into something spectacular someday.  I just need to be patient.  Plant the seeds.  Tend to my tiny treasures.

This particular experience, 7 of 100, represents one of those seeds.

We met a lot of passionate people when visiting the Pennsylvania Farm Show last Saturday. (Read about that experience here.)  While walking through a crowded aisle of vendors, we sampled chips, dips, pickles, cheese and ghee, but the booth that grabbed my attention was the Stroopie Co.  As the woman handed me a sample of a freshly made Dutch Stroopwafel, she mentioned an interesting fact about her company–they hire and provide meaningful employment for refugee women.  I immediately asked her if she offered tours and she gave me a card so I could send an email to set something up.

For our 7th of 100 experience adventures, my daughters and I drove to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to visit the Lancaster Sweet Shoppe.

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The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe is an adorable and delightful place where the fresh goodies of three local treat makers–Groff’s Candies, Pine View Dairy Ice Cream and Stroopies–can be discovered (and eaten!)

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Established in 2008, the Stroopie Co.’s mission sparks social change, the fundamental backbone of the company.  As well as making delicious, high quality cookies, the company exists to support and hire refugee women who, after fleeing their homes in countries ravaged by war, natural disasters, poverty and uncertainty, find a safe haven and a chance to start over in Lancaster.

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World-wide, 60 million refugees are forced to flee their homelands and each year, the city of Lancaster invites approximately 1,000 of these humans to re-establish and begin a new life in Pennsylvania.  Before settling in a new city, some refugees endure living in refugee camps for 12 to 15 years.

Many refugees experience difficult challenges, painful tragedies and separation from family.  In a new country, the process of trying to find work proves problematic due to language and cultural barriers.

Husband and wife team, Jonathan and Jennie Groff, became co-owners of the Stroopie Co. in 2010.  Their focus on social impact centers around providing meaningful employment for refugee women (and creating an uber delicious cookie!).

**Fun Fact:  The refugees are taught English by a certified ESL teacher.

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The gracious Jennie met with me and my daughters for almost two hours on the day we visited the candy shop.  (She is also the woman who handed me the Stroopie sample at the Farm Show.)  Immediately, Jennie’s dedication and passion for refugees and her love of all people shines through her peaceful and welcoming personality.

She is delightful.  Her genuine and honest charisma generated a magnetism–and without sounding too weird–I really longed to talk to her all day and be her new BFF. LOL.

Friends, this woman is a world-changer.  A mother.  A tranquil soul.  A peaceful warrior.  A seed planter.

She inspires.

I want to be her when I grow up (even though she is younger than me!).  The impact her company makes on this world can never be measured–it has the potential to not just change a few lives, but also to change this world.  Once a human is given the chance to live in a safe environment and the opportunity for meaningful work, the positive ripples continue for generations to come.  The seeds of this business transform lives.

I am reminded of the commonly quoted story of the boy who threw a star fish back into the ocean in the hopes of making a difference–even if that difference was only for one star fish.

Jennie explained that the Stroopie Co.’s dedication to social impact and public transparency practices opened the door for the company to become a Certified B Corporation.  A Certified B Corporation (“B” stands for “Benefit”) focuses on the human side of business–measuring what truly matters–social and environmental responsibility, legal accountability and the innovation to solve social and environmental problems.

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Jennie also gave us free Stroopies.  THANK YOU, JENNIE!

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Small batches of Stroopies are made fresh daily on site by the Stroopie Co. , in a cozy and modest kitchen space in the back of the candy shop.  A mix of local flour, eggs and cinnamon create the dough and creamy, homemade caramel turns and blends in a large, electrical vat.

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An exposed work space and viewing area allows visitors to watch each Stroopie travel from raw dough to completed product.  Four dollops of Stroopie dough are placed in a waffle iron for about one minute.

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Stroopie cookie in raw dough form

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4 dollops of Stroopie dough on the waffle iron

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2 waffle irons cook the dough for about 1 minute

When the cookie comes out of the waffle iron, it is cut in half and made into a perfect circle.

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**Fun Fact:  Jennie’s husband, Jonathan, designed the machine used to slice and stamp out the perfect circle!

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Then, homemade caramel is hand-spread between the two slices, creating a super yummy Dutch Stroopwafel right in the heart of Lancaster, PA!  Once cooled, some Stroopies are dipped in chocolate and other goodies or served in the original form.  Either way, I have been craving them since we left the shop.

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A deliciously warm Stroopie

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The master Stroopie maker shown in the photos is Mary.  Mary left Myanmar and moved to the United States in 2013.  She began working for the Stroopie Co. in 2015.

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The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe opened this location in 2016, after the Stroopie Co. won The Great Social Enterprise Pitch.  WOW!  That is AWESOME!  (Think ‘Shark Tank’ for local businesses)

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**Fun Fact:  The Stroopie Co. makes 3,000 Stroopies each day!

The Groff’s renovated the once barbershop space into a simply charming, farm-house style, sweets store, which stylistically benefits from Jennie being raised on an 100 acre Mennonite dairy farm.  HGTV should be envious.

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The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe

Jonathan Groff’s parents own Groff’s Candies and the chocolate morsels fill the glass display cases like tiny jewels.

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I love a family-owned business!  I also LOVE the reclaimed wood and white marble!

Pine View Dairy Ice Cream fills the space between the chocolate and the Stroopies production area.

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**Fun Fact:  Stroopies are sold in over 80 local shops and markets!

The relaxing back patio provides a wonderfully fun space to enjoy a warm Stroopie!

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Though the girls and I LOVED the delicious Stroopie cookies and will no doubt return for more, the take-away from our encounter with Jennie Groff was PURE inspiration and motivation.  This company’s innovation and shift toward social progress is creating a revolution of acceptance, diversity and transformation in small business/corporate America.

Since we returned home, the topic of social enterprise and being a mighty tool for social change continuously fills our family discussions.  My daughters are both naturally advocacy-minded, but this experience catapulted their awareness and triggered something that has yet to be realized.

A seed was planted and I look forward to the development and action it might create.

Thank you Jennie and Jonathan for being genuine.  For making a difference.  For generating change.  And, for planting seeds.

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“I am only one; but still I am one.  I can not do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do.”  Helen Keller

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”   Jane Goodall

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For more information and to order Stroopies online, visit www.stroopies.com

Seriously, order some online.  Now.

The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe is located at 141 N. Duke Street, Lancaster, PA, 17602.  Visit their website at www.lancastersweetshoppe.com or call 717-869-5955.

For more information about B Corps and social enterprise, click here

A video of my daughter signing in ASL about our experience can be found below.