Donovan was the oldest of three girls, and both of her sisters had serious health problems. From the age of 12 when her mother returned to work, Donovan worked as a hands-on caregiver for her sisters. Her youngest son was born with spina bifida, a serious birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord do not form properly. She was paralyzed from the waist down.
Her other sister, Tabitha, developed leukemia. It fell to Donovan to care for Tabitha after school and during her several years of therapy. She died when Donovan was still in high school.
“My mom would work until 7 or 8 at night, so I would come home from school and have to cook dinner,” recalls Donovan.
It was heartbreaking to see her sister suffer. Donovan initially considered going into the medical field, but found that too nerve-wracking.
“I think I had post-traumatic stress,” Donovan said. “While my sister was being treated, I witnessed many children dying in the hospital. Even my other sister, some of her friends died. Our family has connected with all other families with special needs, it will be all you know.
The experience left her with a deep sense of empathy.
“My purpose in life is to become a social worker,” she said. “All I really know is how to help people and how to solve problems.”
her way of helping children
Donovan has no children of his own. After suffering several miscarriages, including one that nearly cost her life, she and her civil engineer husband, Quinn Donovan, abandoned their dreams of having children and moved to California in 2004. rice field. She was hesitant at first because of her spinal cord injury, which means going back to the hospital.
“It was the best thing I ever did for myself. I was able to go back and face and deal with all that trauma. I loved the job,” she said. I was.
Donovan has worked for the San Francisco Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Children and Families for the past 15 years. She has worked for the agency in a variety of capacities, including facilitating temporary assistance for families in need.Currently, she serves as her policy analyst for the Office of Child Support Enforcement. I’m here. She likes a desk job, but Cake4Kids is an opportunity to do hands-on work that makes a difference.
She came across Cake4Kids while looking for a service project for the Napa/Sonoma Junior League of which she is a member. When she discovered that there was a Cake4Kids chapter in her neighboring county but no one to lead the Sonoma County chapter, she volunteered and took on Napa County as well.
All referrals go through the Cake4Kids central office, which sends notifications to volunteers in the appropriate chapters. The first volunteer to reply receives the commission. Volunteers can choose as many “potteries” as they like. Emergency bakers stand by to fill in last minute if the request is not billed.
Donovan says bakers try hard to make their cakes magical, but requests can be difficult. The hardest part was the little girl who wanted “make-up she’s cake.” It wasn’t charged, so Donovan swooped in and had other bakers bake it, then she took to Instagram to showcase the idea.
Fondant is the cake maker’s best friend, and Donovan sculpts face-shaped lipsticks, brushes, eyelashes, and compacts to do his best to make a cake good enough to please the budding glam girl. rice field.
cakes for all occasions
What started as a mission to make birthday cakes for foster children and at-risk youth has expanded to serve a wider range of needs. We make sweets for all kinds of special events for us.
Although she never meets the young man who received the cake, she occasionally hears through social agencies about how certain children have reacted to the cake. She recalls hearing stories of her 16-year-old boy who lived with her family in the car the whole time.
“The first time he got a cake was through Cake4Kids. Can you imagine?” she said sadly.
Donovan is responsible for raising at least $2,500 annually for the Cake4Kids organization. To reach her goal, she held a gingerbread house contest. She sold 30 of her kits for her $40 each, and contestants took her 48 hours to decorate and bring them to Montgomery Village, where they were set up and judged for originality last Sunday.
Among the judges Donovan hired was Melissa Yanc of Quail and Condor Bakery in Healdsburg, who was The Food Network’s 2019 Holiday Baking Champion.
“I never imagined someone wouldn’t even get a birthday cake,” lamented Yank, a mother of two. But she said it’s understandable given how expensive cakes have become.
“They’re getting harder to access, let alone organic and locally sourced, like what we do,” says Yanc. She plans to join her baking team for Cake4 Kids after Christmas.
Donovan’s core management team is small and includes her mother, Cookie Moore, and her social media friend, Paula Simon. Some companies are stepping up to help, including Keith Giusto Bakery Supply in Petaluma, who provided sugar and flour to volunteers, and Nancy’s Fancies in Santa Rosa, which provides supplies and classes for bakers.
Donovan said it might seem like a small gesture, but there’s a lot more baked into each cake.
“It’s about making sure they feel special and building self-esteem and self-esteem through that cake,” she said. When you do something like that, it’s building a really strong community.”
You can contact Staff Writer Meg McConahey at 707-521-5204 or email@example.com.