Epiphany Over Pan Dulce

Written by Jesenia Hernandez, Communications Manager

Community Engagement Coordinator Martin Martinez and Artist in Residence JJ McPeak took Tierra Vida youth on a field trip to Vinny’s Bakery in downtown Pasco. As part of our art studio program, they wanted youth to explore the murals, art, and stories of people in our broader Pasco community. Martin shares the experience here:  

It is important to not close in on ‘my house’ or ‘my street’ and to expose our youth to different stories of people who have followed their dreams. It’s not only about being connected to Tierra Vida but the outside community in a positive way.  When we arrived at Vinny’s Bakery, we went inside and the youth started seeing the pictures, art and the workers. Some kids started telling us that they had been there, and others said it was their first visit. All the kids bought a bread, un pan dulce, but before they ate it, they were given art supplies and drew a picture of their pastry. 

While they gathered and ate their pan dulce, the bakery owner, Don Vinny, shared his story of immigrating to the United States with “nothing” and pursuing his dream of baking, of owning a shop and doing something he loves to do. He also spoke about his love for giving back to the community, speaking to youth, and helping people who are in difficult and vulnerable situations.

When we left the bakery, one of the teenage girls, Jennifer, who is 14, came to me and said, “Martin it’s amazing how he didn’t come with anything. Imagine what we can do with the support we have, our mom and dad together working hard, and us being in school. Imagine what we can do in the future.” 

In that moment, the field trip goal was accomplished. Youth connected to Vinny’s testimony and were able to see themselves in the future, doing something they love and with support from community. As Jennifer imagines what the future may hold for her and her friends, we also begin to wonder how our youth will encourage and give back to others. How many epiphanies or sudden realizations will they inspire over simple acts of sharing meals, creating art, or storytelling?

For delicious food, breads, and pastries, visit Vinny’s Bakery at 1107 W Lewis St, Pasco WA 99301.

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