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Life & Work with Leslie Nilsen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leslie Nilsen.

Hi Leslie, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I run the Arizona Chapter of For Goodness Cakes. We are a nonprofit that started in California in 2016. We expanded to include chapters all over the country and I opened the Arizona chapter in 2019. Our mission at For Goodness Cakes is to give individual youth at least one special moment this is all abut them. By providing a child a birthday treat made especially for them, it gives them some much-needed time to not feel the increasing pressures of their socioeconomic situation, but rather help future optimism and confidence at a critical age. We receive requests from non-profit agencies who work with at-risk youth for orders of birthday/academic graduation cakes. Our volunteer bakers choose the cakes they want to bake and deliver them to the agencies. Our most favorite part is creating the biggest smiles ever. Every child deserves to be celebrated and at a minimum, on the day they were born! We have baked close t0 2000 cakes in the Greater Phoenix area, have over 475 active Sprinkle Squad volunteers and 61 agencies requesting our cakes. We are super excited about our impact but know there are many, many more children to reach that equally deserve to be celebrated!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Fundraising is always a huge challenge for nonprofit organizations and For Goodness Cakes is no different. We recognize it and work diligently to get the word out and foster our mission to drive those donations. The struggles are well worth the effort to ensure every child receives a special treat on their special day.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
We are a nonprofit that specializes in celebrating at-risk youth on their special day. We are the only nonprofit in Arizona that bakes birthday/academic graduation cakes for foster/at-risk youth. We have made a tremendous impact in the 18 months we have been baking in Arizona and are excited about what is ahead.

Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
Our system is perfect for anyone wanting to volunteer as we provide the training (our orientation and food safety class are both free and available online), we require no baking experience and just ask the volunteers to spread love, joy and frosting. A box cake and a can of frosting is fine! One cake or many is fine. There are no minimums and the calendar allows the bakers to choose only the cakes they are comfortable with to deliver to the locations close to them. We have agencies serving these children all over Maricopa County so it is easy for the volunteer bakers to pick and choose. It is clear that we cannot do everything but we are also clear that we all can do something. If all of us contribute even on a small level, we can make incredible things happen! We are so grateful to the volunteer bakers and financial contributors, that have made 2000 cakes possible in AZ in 18 months!

Contact Info:

Image Credits:
Featured photo –  Leslie Nilsen and Jodi Shaw

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