When Gail went on maternity leave from her 15-year job at a petroleum company, she had no idea that having that baby boy would change her life so dramatically. While she was gone, the management restructured, and her position was given up. She spent the next two years looking for work, doing everything she could to try to make or save money, as she didn’t qualify for food stamps. “When you go from making $65,000 a year with great benefits to making $15,000 with no benefits, it gets real pretty quick,” Gail said. “I used to bring my donations to drop off at the Freestore Foodbank. Now I was the one coming in for the help. It was a really hard and strange feeling.”
Facing possible eviction, Gail decided it was time to get some help and that’s when she met Sarah Humphries through the homeless prevention program at the Freestore Foodbank. Sarah was Gail’s case manager, but she was much more than that for Gail. Sarah would call Gail to check on her regularly, she helped her family find safer housing, and arranged for holiday gifts through the Adopt-A-Family program for Gail. Gail was constantly humbled by the kindness and respectful nature of both Sarah and the families that helped her family. She thanked them in the only way she could afford – with cupcakes.
Gail never really baked much, but she discovered that baking her kids’ cakes saved her some money. She also realized that she actually enjoyed baking, and truly had a knack for it. Her reputation grew so much that people started calling her “Cupcake Lady”, so Gail decided maybe it was time to legitimize this as an actual business. She acquired a cottage license and started A Mother’s Touch Cakes, since she could rarely bake anything without a kid or two hanging all over her. She worked hard for two years and finally got a spot at Findlay Market where she sets up on Fridays and Sundays. You can also find her at Washington Park on Wednesdays and at Second Sundays on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine.
Gail was so inspired by by Sarah and the Freestore Foodbank programs that kept her family off the streets that she has also started her own sort of assistance. She launched Project Mother’s Touch, an initiative where 10% of each sale from her bakery goes to feed others in the community. At the last event, Gail and her team made 100 lunches for the City Gospel Mission and the Drop Inn Center. She also assembles We Care bags, complete with small toiletries, socks, water, bus fare, as well as a lunch. Gail has also created a bartering community on Facebook, where over 120 members can trade goods and services. “I don’t know where I’d be right now if I hadn’t met Sarah,” Gail said. “I just had to do something to give back.”
With all of her work, Gail doesn’t have a lot of down time. She said that in the rare event that she finds some, she loves reading, live music, and hopes to travel a little more with her family. Gail’s oldest is headed to Wright State University this fall to study engineering on a full academic scholarship, and her baby is starting kindergarten. The ones in the middle can almost always be seen with Gail and her husband at the markets.