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Paramedic to Baker Bridge Program (Sort Of)

HOLLAND, Mich. — Tracy Allen served the Holland area as a paramedic for 10 years. She juggled the demands of family life, a husband and four children, working third shift as a paramedic.

Today, instead of serving the Holland community as a full-time paramedic, Tracy is trading in her stethoscope for a rolling pin. Tracy opened a new bakery, The Oven Mitt, in Holland’s Baker Lofts.

Today Tracy is serving up fresh muffins, pastries, cookies and other baked goods. Her dream of opening her own bakery a reality.

“A couple of years ago I went to the Culinary Institute and did the baking and pastry program, mainly just to pursue my hobby further,” Allen said. “I was going to stay a paramedic but after graduating, this space became available.”

Allen graduated from The Culinary Institute at Baker College in September. On Nov. 1, she signed the lease with Baker Lofts and then on Feb. 10, The Oven Mitt held its grand opening.

So far, Allen said, business has been going well. It has been steady, with special orders flooding in. But for her, the most difficult part of the process has been the transition in careers.

“Being a paramedic for 10 years and leaving that career and that family and that lifestyle has been very difficult,” Allen said. “At the same time, it has been a dream come true. Now I’m working day shift and am at home with my family during the evenings… It is more family oriented.”

Allen said she starts working in the morning and does the day’s baking in the full kitchen on the Baker Lofts premises. Once done, she brings the baked items to her bakery and spends the rest of the day decorating cakes and cupcakes behind the counter.

“I try to do the majority of my decorating up here in the shop,” Allen said. “I do a lot of my decorating here because I think it is a lot of fun for people to see. Making wedding cakes is kind of fun to watch and it keeps me up front with my staff and my customers.”

Moving forward, Allen is still going to work part-time as a paramedic and plans to pick up a few shifts a month to stay involved in that community. But right now, she is focused on making her dream come true.

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