Mar 11, 2008

Chocolate glaze and a helping hand

by Stan Barringer

On a non-descript corner running perpendicular to Timberlake Road sits The Bakery, a privately-owned family business that has recently become the obsession of many Liberty students.
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In the past few months, creative individuals have helped the Christian owners earn extra money for business and medical expenses. Store owner Jyl Van Dusen said she has been touched by students’ willingness to help her business.
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“I was encouraged by the heart (students) showed in wanting to do something,” Van Dusen said. “They promised to pray for me. Prayer is the best thing I could have asked for, but these kids also insisted on doing something to help.”
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Students Perry Petrozelli and Justin Warner visited The Bakery and struck up a conversation with Van Dusen about the challenges of management and caring for her husband, Bill, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
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“I knew God had sent them for something other than donuts,” Van Dusen said. “They asked how they could pray for me. The store wasn’t making enough to cover my husband’s medical bills, but I told them how God provided for us from day to day. Then they kept asking what they could do for me.”
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Petrozelli and Warner, students on Dorm 22-2, worked with Resident Assistant (RA) Tyler McClure to organize a brother/sister dorm visit to The Bakery. The first and second floors of Dorm 22 helped to clean the shop and empty trash cans. They also bought the entire inventory of donuts.
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“My RA partner and I took 50 or 60 people over there to help out Jyl,” McClure said. “We surprised them, that’s for sure!”
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Van Dusen said she rushed to the store after a panicked cashier called to request help.
“I could barely find a parking space when I got there,” Van Dusen said. “The students did everything for me. They even took out the trash. Then Tyler asked if they could pray with me in the parking lot.”
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McClure said that Van Dusen prayed for them instead. Before leaving, the students collected money to help Van Dusen and her husband pay for his treatments.
“Tyler handed me a bakery bag,” Van Dusen said. “I took it to the back and looked at it later. They had collected over $500. I had an overdue bill that was going to be turned over to a collections agency, and until then I had no clue how I was going to pay it. The bill was $500.”
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In the bottom of the bag, Van Dusen found a black promotional card for The Bakery. Students had designed the card to hand out on campus and around town.
Business at The Bakery increased by 49 percent over the last two years, according to Van Dusen. She does not know what impact Liberty students have had upon that figure.
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Van Dusen’s family had ties to Liberty even before The Bakery opened. Jerry Falwell hired her father, Carl Gleason, in the 1970s to lead the construction development team that was building Liberty’s campus. Her parents remained in Lynchburg after the job was finished. The Van Dusens moved to Lynchburg in 2001 to help care for Jyl’s elderly mother. That same year, they purchased a former Dunkin’ Donuts building, which they converted into The Bakery.
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“I knew nothing about running a donut shop,” Van Dusen said. “By God’s grace, the deal fell into place, and I knew there were people who would never darken the steps of a church who might come talk to me in this shop.”
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Van Dusen said that although many of her employees are not Christians, they have been affected by students’ kindness and service. Sophomore special education major Brie Huggins said that is why Liberty students should serve the Lynchburg community.
“We as Christians need to look at people the way Jesus would,” Huggins said, who visits The Bakery every week with her roommates. “He wouldn’t knowingly let someone suffer. It is our job as the body of Christ to help bless people.”
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Van Dusen said that the blessings are greatly appreciated. She changed The Bakery’s sign to say, “Thank you LU students for blessing us.”
“You are happiest when you are blessing others,” Van Dusen said.
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The Bakery is located on the corner of Leesville and Timberlake Roads. Students may receive a 10 percent discount with a student ID.

Contact Stan Barringer at spbarringer@liberty.edu.


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