Deyaniri Garcia, left, teaches students in Culinary Program

The spectacular wedding cakes and mouth-watering baked goods that tempt customers at Delish Bakery & Café provide few clues to the difficult road its co-owner traveled to open the Lawrence business last spring, or the unexpected obstacles she’s overcome since.

Deyaniri Garcia’s creativity and craft was immediately seen in her cakes and desserts at the new bakery, but within months, her business became one of the hundreds falling victim to the Columbia Gas explosions. The new bakery was closed for 3 ½ months, before successfully reopening this year.

Garcia came from the Dominican Republic at 17, with a dream of someday owning her own business.  That dream was deferred for over a decade while raising two children as a single mother, learning English, and working as a housekeeper, seamstress and bartender.

Then Garcia learned of the Culinary Program at Lazarus House, where professional chefs share their skills with students.

“I applied, and was accepted!  The teacher was very helpful and Lazarus House provided help to those in need of a better future,” she said.

Persuaded by Lazarus House that she had exceptional talent, Garcia opened Delish Bakery & Café, along with another young entrepreneur, Elizabeth Bautista.

She’s not forgotten what the program did for her, and she now helps a new generation of professional cooks by regularly teaching baking and decoration as a guest chef in the Culinary Program that launched her to success.

Once a student, now a role model, the joy she brings to hopeful students shows what is possible, regardless the obstacles and challenges once seen as unbeatable.