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Northeast Ohio is full of creative people following their dreams while trying to make a living. From jewelry crafted out of broken street glass to sound equipment engineered for rock stars, see what people are "making" in the community.

Making It: Abolition Bakery Cooks for Charity

MAKER: Rita Ballenger, founder and volunteer

BUSINESS: Abolition Bakery

WHY THEY BAKE: Abolition Bakery has two main missions. One is to raise awareness of human trafficking and the other is to donate funds (more than $10,000 to date) to organizations that serve survivors of human trafficking. The staff is all volunteers.

AFTER RETIREMENT: Upon retirement from the medical field and working at Tri-C, Ballenger received several free credit hours of classes from the school, which led her to a culinary program. Her new-found kitchen skills led to baking bread and cupcakes. In addition, while all this was going on, she one found herself attending a talk about human trafficking.

“When I went to the human trafficking presentation in 2011, I fully expected that they were going be talking about human trafficking in the third world, I had no idea it was here…in my city,” she said.

Ballenger and her assistants bake over a dozen loaves of her signature sourdough bread each week to sell at area farmers’ markets. In addition to the bread, Abolition Bakery also creates cupcake bouquets, which can be special ordered.

WHAT’S NEXT: “My ultimate goals are to continue what we’re doing, and to raise more awareness working with specifically young girls. I just want to get the word out to them about the risk factors of human trafficking, so they’re less at risk,” Ballenger said.

She hopes that one day she can provide vocational training for survivors of human trafficking.

jeff.haynes@ideastream.org | 216-916-6276