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CEDAR FALLS — The directors of Try Pie are in the midst of rolling out something new for the Cedar Valley.

Megan Tensen and Sarah Turner are looking to purchase their own Try Pie storefront in downtown Waterloo.

The pair say they have reached capacity in their current work space at Orchard Hill Church.

“We really appreciate the space we’ve had and the things we’ve learned being at Orchard,” Turner said. “The last four years have been a time of natural product development and research. I think both the residents and students are ready for us to take this step.”

Try Pie was established in December 2013 as a teen-employment program.

The bakery blends faith and fellowship in a classroom setting with real-life work and customer-service experience for teen girls in the Waterloo, Cedar Falls and surrounding areas. The directors incorporate the following core values into their operations: financial stewardship, job skill development, faith development and reconciling community.

Tensen and Turner say they have an idea of which location downtown they’d like but are not releasing that information until negotiations with developers are complete.

About a year ago, Tensen and Turner began to experience “growing pains” as product demand and employee numbers increased. Their own space also would give the teen workers additional customer-service experience in a real-world work setting.

“I think customer service is a skill that many jobs in their future will require,” Tensen said. “I think it’s just a good life skill at a young age. We’d like to give them more opportunities to do that regularly.”

So far, fundraising efforts have been launched through social media as well as partnering with local organizations, including Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa. The goal is to have $50,000 to open the store. About $30,000 is still needed.

“It’s kind of a lot of different little things that hopefully come together,” Tensen said.

Sidecar Coffee has joined the efforts by adding a new flavor to the mix: a Try-Pie Bakery Blend coffee, finished with its own logo, available at Sidecar stores toward the end of November.

“It goes great with a slice of pie,” Turner said.

The store currently employs 10 girls from West and East high schools in Waterloo, Cedar Falls High School and Dike-New Hartford.

If their venture is successful, about 20 students will be able to work for Try Pie.

“With a storefront, we have a lot more options with how many hours a week we can offer and nights a week the girls can work,” Turner said.

Try Pie, one of several programs under the Link Christian Community Development, is a partnership between Orchard Hill and Harvest Vineyard churches that originated with a focus to better the Walnut neighborhood, just north of downtown Waterloo.

Try Pie can be purchased frozen at Hansen’s Dairy locations and freshly baked at the Habitat ReStore in Waterloo and Hatchlings and Hens in Cedar Falls on the first Saturday of the month. The operation also has expanded into catering and weddings.

Financial gifts to the fund of any size are welcome. Gifts can be mailed to the CFNEIA at 3117 Greenhill Circle, Cedar Falls, IA 50613. Checks should be made payable to Try Pie Storefront Fund. Gifts can also be made on the Community Foundation’s secure website at www.fund.cfneia.org/trypie.

For more information about the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa, including how to donate, the various types of funds, and the Endow Iowa 25 percent state tax credit, go to www.cfneia.org or contact Elizabeth Hackbarth, Director of Development for CFNEIA at 243-1354 or ehackbarth@cfneia.org.

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