ALBANY, Ga. -- In the spirit of the holidays, a local bakery has devised a way to truly make Albany the Good Life City again.
The Bread House has launched its own "Pay it Forward" campaign.
The process starts when a customer comes into the store. Near the register is a basket of Pan de Vida bread, which is a type of flatbread, that is available for free. When a customer takes it, they are asked to perform an act of generosity for someone else.
"The (Pan de Vida) bread is symbolic of breaking bread for the holidays," said Bread House Store Manager Kerry Dehus.
After that, customers are then being asked to come to The Bread House again and log their experience of giving back in a book currently in the bakery's lobby.
"If it's a great success, we may keep it going," Dehus said. "It's a Christmas tradition to break bread, but I see no reason why we wouldn't continue to do this.
"I have a big feeling the program will get national attention. If it does something special for one person, it's worth it."
GraceWay Recovery Residence, a long-term substance abuse treatment center for women, also has a hand in the program. As part of the recovery process, it is mandatory for GraceWay residents to go back to work after 90 days -- so The Bread House hires them.
"All the girls at GraceWay work here," said Dehus. "The girls come in, I train them and all the profits go to indigent care for the girls."
Liz Dixon, development director at GraceWay, said the experience of working at the bakery provides a meaningful recovery for the residents, as does the "Pay it Forward" concept the store has adopted.
"The Bread House has already been paying it forward, so to speak, under the radar by employing residents and giving donations," Dixon said. "The staff is enjoying the opportunity to come into a safe, loving and productive work environment. That is wholesome.
"The staff really puts a face on successful recovery in their gratitude and in their desire to pass on the grace and goodness that has been shown. They really have had an impact."
It is this kind of attitude that makes the residents working there enthusiastic about spreading joy to others, Dixon said.
"We just launched this, and already we are hearing about what people will do (to pay it forward)," she said. "It's a cool thing; very inspiring.
"We want everyone to experience the joy of selfless giving."
The Bread House is located at 1902 Dawson Road. It is open from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.