CHAPTER FIVEOpportunity When You Don't Expect It

Sweet Grace Heavenly Cakes was born in 2008, as the Great Recession ripped through our country, particularly affecting working‐class communities like the one in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Danaris Mazara can identify the exact minute the bakery was born, in fact. She was lying on her couch, staring at the drop‐ceiling of her rented house, $37 worth of food stamps to her name.i

In fact, it wasn't even her own $37 in food stamps. Her mother had stopped by earlier in the day to offer her support. “I know you are going through a hard time,” she said, handing them to her daughter.

Danaris's shift at Samsung started soon, but that job wasn't enough to pay for rent and food. Her husband, Andres, was out of work and sliding into depression. The closure of Haverhill Paperboard, a local manufacturer that had been operating for over 100 years, cost him and 173 others their jobs. They'd lost their house and declared bankruptcy as the Great Recession of 2008–2009 came barreling down on the new lives the couple, immigrants from the Dominican Republic, had built in Lawrence.

“What are you going to do with $37 in food stamps?” Danaris asked herself. “In a couple of days, you won't have anything to feed your family because that is not enough money to buy groceries.”

Their baby daughter, Grace, was asleep nearby. She had been conceived after a string of miscarriages. Danaris desperately wanted to stay home to care for her newborn but the family couldn't ...

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