Miladys Ramirez MANAGER, Sweet Things Bake Shop, The Lower Eastside Girls Club. Miladys Ramirez is a community leader, mother of four, and absolute fixture in the Sweet Things Bake Shop of The Lower Eastside Girls Club, an entrepreneurial training and baking program for low-income neighborhood girls.
Born on Avenue C, on the very block where the bakery now stands, Miladys knows firsthand the challenges facing young girls growing up in her community. Despite long-term adversity and financial disadvantage, Miladys is eternally and infectiously optimistic. A child of immigrants, Miladys was raised on The Lower East Side by a single mother who barely spoke English. Losing her older brother to gun violence in 1998 solidified Miladys’ determination to become a positive influence on her children and community.
In 2000, she started volunteering at the Sweet Things Baking Program of The Lower Eastside Girls Club, a grassroots non-profit that works to fulfill the longstanding needs of underserved girls in the community. A year later, Miladys became The Girls Club’s first full-time Bake Shop Manager, and began establishing the Bake Shop as a viable means for afterschool and summer employment for girls from the neighborhood. The Bake Shop disseminates a business and job skills curriculum to 30 girls a year, while earning nearly $100,000 in corporate, local, and holiday sales to benefit its parent organization. Miladys is responsible for daily operations in the kitchen and preparing meals for more than fifty Girls Club program participants. She also teaches “Cookie Academy” three times a week.
Miladys is loved and respected by the staff, customers, and girls and young women of the Sweet Things program. Her kitchen is a space where girls feel safe discussing sensitive, personal issues. She sets an example for the girls by continuing her education in the culinary arts and supporting the community through her work. Miladys constantly reiterates and exemplifies to the girls the message of the Girls Club: be your best self.