Women’s Empowerment takes on making 1,200 desserts for Thursday’s gala

The smell of chocolate truffles, orange cream and strawberries flooded the KVIE commercial kitchen Wednesday morning as Women’s Empowerment graduates were hard at work. Making 1,200 desserts for 550 people was no easy task, but the 10 women took on the challenge with smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes.

The desserts are for the 10th Anniversary Celebration of Independence Gala that benefits Women’s Empowerment, a Sacramento non profit that helps homeless women find jobs and housing for their families. The gala is Thursday from 5:30 – 9 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt, 1215 J St.

The women worked diligently to make the perfect cheesecake bites from a recipe of one of the graduate’s great grandmothers. Tray after tray of chocolate truffles and orange-cream cheese cupcakes came out of the ovens while frosting was stirred by hand. Jovial voices bounced around the room while hand mixers turned on and off as they whirled batter quickly around glass bowls.

“Women’s Empowerment is a safe haven,” said Ann Gamble-Turner, a graduate of the Women’s Empowerment job readiness program. “I thought I was all alone, but at Women’s Empowerment I found women who could relate to my experiences. These women are making their desserts with every ounce of love that they’ve got…Talking about it makes me emotional,” she added.

Ann Gamble-Turner

Many of the women who enroll in Women’s Empowerment are homeless, unemployed and have come from histories of violence, abuse, drugs and poverty. Women meet others in the program who can relate to their experiences and offer encouragement as they work to create a new future for themselves and their families.

Gamble-Turner said she is happy to be a server at the gala this year and is so proud of the women who are graduating from the program. Gamble-Turner described herself as a Women’s Empowerment cheerleader who found her second chance in the program. she was offered a new start in the program after living as a homeless woman in Sacramento and having faced years of poverty and hardship.

Lisa Culp

“The women making the desserts today are women who love food and love to cook,” said Lisa Culp, executive director of Women’s Empowerment. “Making desserts this morning and serving dinner tomorrow night are a part of their training to become ServSafe certified."

Every restaurant must have at least one employee with a ServSafe ceritification to ensure that the food facility is following food safety standards. This certification will make these women more competitive candidates when they apply for jobs.

“We try to equip women with confidence and skills they can use in the workforce. Preparing them for a real job means they will be able to provide for their families,” Culp said.

The menu for Thursday night was not available Wednesday.

Thursday night the Grand Hyatt will be preparing watermelon salad, smoked pork shoulder, jambalaya and red velvet popsicles for the gala.
The Women’s Empowerment graduates and those who are in the program now will serve food to guests and recent honored graduates. 

Wednesday morning the kitchen was filled with loud laughter, emotional moments and busy hands. Hard at work, the graduates were in “go” mode as they pulled together to make more than 1,000 desserts in just a couple of hours.

For more information on Women’s Empowerment or the gala Thursday, click here.

Editorial Note: A correction has been made to this story after it was published. The incorrect information has been struck out and the correct information has been added.

Orange cream cheese cupcakes wait to go in the oven.

Orange cream cheese cupcakes cooled before getting frosted

The chocolate truffle mix was made by hand.

Hundreds of chocolate Oreo truffles were rolled into balls before cooking.

The crust was rolled out for the cheese cake bites.

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September 21, 2011 | 9:50 PM

A SWEET BLESSING This was such a blessing to me the event of dessert making for the Women Empowerment Gala 2011. I could do this every year it’s not just about giving back but, coming together with present and past women who graduated at Women Empowerment. Sharing are updated lives, laughing, smiling and being like girls again, it was fun. I was just at peace with myself, I loved to bake & cook since I was a child helping and watching my grandmother and mother cook is how I got got my first passion to cook. Thank you KVIE the kitchen was so large and clean a Chef’s dream. I already have my heart set on this event for next year…..Ms Hope Angel Yepez-Silva, Graduate Session #37

September 22, 2011 | 6:21 AM

Wonderfully uplifting story of what people can do together for an outstanding cause!

September 22, 2011 | 8:33 AM

The correction made above to the menu is due to a mix up of event menus. The gala will indeed have wonderful and delicious food but the menu written above is for another event.
As for the morning of dessert making: It was a simply wonderful and such a gift to be able to spend time with these women. It was so emotional seeing all of them pull together for a common purpose and to cook with such LOVE! I am excited for the fun evening they have ahead!

Article Author
September 23, 2011 | 2:53 PM

Happy 10th anniversary to Women’s Empowerment.

It’s good to know there’s a program to help these women transition back into normal living and become more independent.

September 23, 2011 | 3:08 PM

It certainly was a fun and inspiring time to come together and give back to Womens Empowerment. They deserve it!!!!!!!!!!!! Margie Castro

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