Cooking isn’t merely a daily chore for Ciara Ray – it’s her passion! Co-owner and Head Baker at Sundays Bakeshop, as well as a long-time volunteer at The Dragonfly Home, Ciara led a session of our Express Yourself series for a group of human trafficking survivors.
“I express my love for people by feeding them.”
Ciara’s passion for cooking developed at a young age as she watched her mom, grandma, and aunts cooking traditional Mexican food, still her favorite cuisine to cook today. She also loves baking, which she and her business partners have turned into a thriving Oklahoma City small business called Sundays Bakeshop.
“When I was in college, I was stressed and missed making food for my family. So every Sunday, I would bake for my roommates and neighbors,” Ciara said. “It was a way I could provide something warm for my friends.” Ciara combined her passion for cooking with her passion for helping The Dragonfly Home serve survivors of human trafficking and presented about cooking for our Express Yourself group.
“Across the board, everyone likes to eat. It’s a common denominator.”
Dragonfly has begun hosting regular group activities for survivors of human trafficking. Each group activity has a different theme to help foster creativity, inspiration, fun, and fellowship for the people we serve—all elements that are crucial for restoration. In the Express Yourself series, guest speakers talk about the activities they use to express their identity and what’s important to them with the goal of inspiring each participant to discover activities that give them a voice.
Ciara made one of her favorite dishes for the group: a beef and chile soup called Caldillo. “It turned out pretty spicy!” Ciara said. “I meant to tone it down, but everyone’s mouth was burning. They said they liked it, though!” She also talked about what it means to her to express herself through cooking, how it’s a way for her to bring people together by providing a nourishing meal, a way for her to foster community.
“It got some wheels turning!”
Ciara’s speaking part was pretty short and she was glad it sparked an extensive discussion among the group of human trafficking survivors. One group participant mentioned that expressing herself through food made sense to her and she could relate to that passion immediately. It sparked an idea in her to explore her own passion for cooking more.
Another participant commented that she wouldn’t have thought about cooking as a way someone could express themselves. She said she wasn’t sure yet how she expressed herself, but the Express Yourself group was opening her eyes to discover what that might be for her.
“There’s nothing small about it expressing yourself in your own unique way.”
The group discussed how expressing oneself can look many different ways and the importance of not putting yourself in a box. “People think expressing themselves has to mean doing something artsy – painting, poetry – but cooking can definitely be a way,” Ciara said.
We hope that groups like the one Ciara led will be a source of encouragement to the survivors of human trafficking at The Dragonfly Home Human Trafficking Relief and Restoration Center! Each person we serve has wonderful, unique talents and ways to express themselves! We’re grateful to Ciara for using her passion to help the people we serve think about exploring their own passions!
You can order beautiful and delicious specialty cookies or a cake for your next family meal or event! Find information about Sundays Bakeshop on their website and follow them on Instagram and Facebook !