Local bakery delivers more to the community than its sweet treats By Taylor Shillam | Photo Courtesy of LeAnne te Nyenhuis
There’s something extra sweet about a bakery that is more than it seems. Created out of love, as a safe place to celebrate people of all abilities, The Village Bakery is a sweet place indeed.
Driven by the vision of a self-taught, highly creative pastry chef, The Village Bakery was created to make a difference in the lives of those with special needs and disabilities in the local community, “specifically, helping those with disabilities feel valued, accepted and recognized,” they shared.
Located in the Hayden Super 1 Shopping Center, The Village Bakery employs those with special needs and disabilities to create quality desserts, cakes, pastries and more, all while helping its employees develop important life skills.
The bakery's owner and operator is accomplished chef Dana Bellefeuille, who cultivates a fun, creative environment. Dana spent more than 20 years developing her culinary skills and reputation, working in kitchens with chefs that “many of us know from the Food Network,” making her name across the region and notably making cakes for Seattle’s Space Needle restaurant.
Dana then chose to pursue her desire to combine two loves: a love for baking, and a love of supporting those with special needs and disabilities.
Her passion for supporting those with special needs is near to her heart and home. It began with her own children, her daughter with a physical disability and her son on the autism spectrum.
Dana shared that her motivation for creating a place like The Village Bakery was in wanting for others what she always wanted for her own children. Her vision was always to create a place for people of all abilities to feel accepted, valued and recognized for their own special skills. Since its earliest days, operating out of Dana’s own home kitchen, The Village Bakery has been just that: a safe place that accepts and celebrates all abilities, while providing space for learning and growth.
“My secret wish would be for everyone to see beyond stereotypes,” Dana shared. “Everyone has special talents. Everyone deserves a chance.”
When The Village Bakery began in her home kitchen, “it doubled as a loving space where people with challenges can make their dreams come true, and a venue for baking her amazing delicacies,” the bakery shared.
After a successful beginning, Dana’s next goal was to open a storefront in North Idaho. In early 2022, after ample fundraising and community support, she opened The Village Bakery in its current Hayden location. Now the bakery operates with a variety of culinary goodies offered daily, from sweet and savory breakfasts like bagels, burritos, croissants and sweet rolls, to soups, salads and sandwiches for lunch. In addition to the bakery’s rotating daily bakery items, they offer wholesale items, a selection of holiday goods, and specialty cakes and cupcakes.
At The Village Bakery, each employee has a chance to shine, sharing their unique qualities while developing new skills that reach far beyond baking. The “Bake-A-Tiers,” as Dana has called them, often practice communication, teamwork, money management, and following directions, among other important life skills.
In addition to supporting her employees in their growth, Dana is committed to supporting the greater North Idaho community. “The Village Bakery has participated in many fundraisers and will continue to donate time and product,” bakery staff shared. The bakery’s highly popular Cocoa Bombs, crafted by Dana and her helpers, drove a highly successful fundraiser for the Panhandle Autism Society, in support of individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.
Made to be dropped and melted into hot water or milk for a delicious chocolate treat, Cocoa Bombs are hollow chocolate balls, sealed with hidden goodies inside, like marshmallows and cocoa powder.
The Village Bakery made over 3,000 bombs in a period of about six weeks in 2020, they shared—all out of Dana’s home. They donated proceeds totaling about $10,000 to the Panhandle Autism Society.
They will continue to support the local community, and Cocoa Bombs continue to be sold at their Hayden bakery.
Dana has been honored for her efforts, named one of the 2021 Women of the Year by the Spokesman-Review and Bank of America. She was also honored as a recipient of the Women of Distinction award in the Business and Professional Category for 2021 by Soroptimist International of Coeur d’Alene.
It’s only the beginning for The Village Bakery and Dana’s mission to impact local lives. “I want to mentor and help my workers to fulfill dreams, become proficient and expand their horizons,” she shared. “I tailor it to each person’s ability. Their can-do attitude is amazing. I love every minute of it.”
The Village Bakery is open Tuesday through Sunday in the Hayden Super 1 Shopping Center. Its hours, menu and special-order request forms can be found TheVillageBakeryCdA.com, and regularly posted images of their unique culinary creations can be found on their Facebook page.