Yukon News

Alpine Bakery is Yukon’s ‘hidden non-profit’

Friday August 16, 2013

Re: Bakery volunteer pitch sparks controversy (The News, Aug 9),

I have worked at the Alpine Bakery on and off since January 2012, and I have found that Mr. Suat Tuzlak and his employment policies are anything but “unethical.”

Mr. Tuzlak is one of the most generous people I have ever met. Besides providing employees with an income, he also gives free produce, free bread, and even plane tickets, everyday rides back home, and professional consultations for those who want to quit smoking. He’s even paid some employees’ rent when they couldn’t afford it.

When I asked him to use the bakery’s meeting room for my wedding, he happily agreed - and offered it for free. Never have I had an employer for whom my admiration grew the more I got to know him.

My husband and I have often joked that his business is “a hidden non-profit organization.” Have you ever been to any community event, including major art and music festivals? Well, the Alpine Bakery’s founder probably donated something for it. I have never seen a business owner donating so much money and food (and even paying plane tickets for musicians and adjudicators) and never bragging about it.

I remember once going to my boss to ask for some cookies and coffee for a non-profit event I was co-ordinating. When I later gave Mr. Tuzlak a “thank you” card on behalf of the organization, he looked embarrassed and refused to put it up, saying it really was nothing; I never saw the card again.

That is how Mr. Tuzlak is: you will never know how much he donated, because he is too humble to show it off.

So why is he so generous to his employees and volunteers? And why does he keep feeding people organic food made with top-quality ingredients even if it reduces his profits dramatically?

Because he cares. He really does!

Now, about the ad for volunteer bakers.

I know from experience that any quick, hard-working person who wishes to get a job will pretty much always be able to find paid work at the Alpine Bakery, as it is very often hiring new employees; the ad was not intended for that kind of people.

The ad clearly stated that this was a volunteer position, but also explained that volunteers might one day be asked to do paid work as backup bakers. The volunteer would gain valuable knowledge, while the bakery would have people to call in case of an emergency. A win-win situation.

My husband wisely said: this is not a big multinational chain offering check-out clerks volunteer positions. This is an artisan bakery offering people to learn the skills to become a baker. For free! With benefits!

I have never heard any volunteers (including my husband) complaining about Mr. Tuzlak’s agreement with them. They were actually very thankful.

So, as long as there are no complaints from those volunteers, why are people reacting so strongly?

I respect those who defend workers’ rights, but, dear defenders, you have got the wrong target.

Stop attacking before you regret it. I don’t think you understand what Mr. Tuzlak has done for his employees, his volunteers and for this whole community.

After all, he is one of the only real idealists and philanthropists I have ever met, and for that, he deserves all your respect.

Isabelle Cossette


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