The fifteen years from 2004 to 2019 was transformational for Sheri and Matt Salis. They owned the Great Harvest Bread Co. in Denver, Colorado – a 100% whole grain bakery providing fresh and nutritious bread to their neighbors. During, “the bakery years,” Sheri and Matt raised four kids, baked & sold over a million loaves of bread, were active in their church and community, climbed six 14ers (Colorado slang for 14,000 foot mountain peaks), taught vacation bible school for countless kiddos, coached soccer for countless children and teens, and raised over $53,000 for homeless students in Denver Public Schools. Oh, and one more thing. Matt developed into a high-functioning alcoholic, and the family of six survived.
The bakery years ended unceremoniously when Sheri and Matt lost their commercial lease and closed their bakery doors in February of 2019. When deciding what to do next with their lives, two facts from their previous fifteen years kept bubbling to the surface: Matt suffered from a disease that is drenched in stigma, and the couple had experience raising money for stigma related causes.
A million is a lot of loaves of bread. Sheri and Matt didn’t feel a passion for doing more of that. But they had boundless energy for their recovery from the very stigmatized addiction to alcohol, and they did not want to desert the homeless school children they had supported for so many years.
A new venture was born called, “Stigma,” with the mission of fighting for people who have been stigmatized by our society. Addiction education and recovery, helping children who are disadvantaged economically and educationally, and supporting people trying to survive homelessness are the leading causes we battle through our programs and fundraising.
From a legal standpoint, for those who are into business structure, Stigma operated in 2019 as a start-up owned by Stone Soup LLC, the Colorado company Sheri and Matt created in 2003 to own their bakery. On January 1, 2020, Stone Soup filed with the Colorado Secretary of State to change to a non-profit corporation, and filed for 501c3 status with the IRS so contributions would be federally tax deductible going forward.
That’s a lot of boring legal stuff, but it fits with our commitment to complete transparency. We believe that the key to removing stigma from addiction, poverty and homelessness is to tell the stories of real people honestly and openly. We are starting the open and honest story telling with our story, and the founding of Stigma. We plan to earn your trust before we ask for your support.