A Better Daye
Photo Courtesy of Jalane's Sweets
By Llerraj Esuod "I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refused to be reduced by it." --Maya Angelou Pixar's award-winning animated film, Soul, resonates with adults because its main character, Joe Gardner, explored the meaning of life in a way that made people think about their own. Sherronda Daye found herself doing the same thing when her eight-year career as a legislative director and chief of staff for a local commissioner came to an end. That was ten years ago after the politician was unseated in an election, leaving Daye unemployed and stressed about how she would provide for her two daughters. "Nobody but you, Lord," said Daye, a Liberty City success story who has degrees in psychology, chemistry and an MBA in health service administration. She admits losing her six-figure salary had her "wanting to end it all." "I remember pulling into my garage and just wanting to stay there with the engine running," she said. "God, I'm about to end this (life)."
God had other plans that included "flour, sugar, milk and eggs" because as Daye sat there contemplating the worst, the "urge to bake a cake" swelled within her like rising yeast.
She was bewildered by the hunch but followed it, nonetheless. "I didn't bake. That's not what I did, (but) I went into the kitchen and baked for hours. I baked everything I could get my hands on. I baked my way out of suicidal thoughts and depression," she said. Flour-dusted and tired, Daye said she churned out a variety of cakes well into the following day, giving them away to family, friends, and former colleagues at the County Commission. The demand for her confections grew into what is now affectionately known as Jalane's Sweets, an eponymous honor to her late mother, Sherron Jalane Wilder. She was also accepted into the Start-Up FIU Food, an incubator program at Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. The initiative helps indie cooks expand their operation by providing them unrestricted commercial kitchen use. While figuring out her next move, Daye's considerations went beyond her skills in the kitchen. "I remember feeding my kids and not eating," she shared. "Not because I wasn't hungry but, if I did, they couldn't. (That) created a different thump in my heart." The loss of her mother, coupled with her empathy for others navigating Mother's Day without their mothers, led Daye to partner with a local organization to help make the day a little sweeter. "Mother's Day can be tough for a lot of people. Even the siblings of the deceased experience a degree of grief. The surviving children often find themselves trying to fill the space to make their mama's whole while dealing with the permanence of death." Daye's 100 Cakes in 10 Days for Mother's Day plan with non-profit Miami Children's Initiative allowed her to provide a Bundt cake for a mother and for a family who has lost a child through Jalane's sister company (thesweetexchange.com); opportunities that make her deeply grateful she answered her "calling to bake through a crisis." --Rebel Writes