Brady Market: Building Hope and Sustainability (through an Agency Fund)

“Day one you come in and you are paid even for your work on your health. Hope is how we all begin to fill that safety net.”

Brady Market’s motto is “more than a market.” Located in what was formerly the Nojaim Brothers SuperMarket, the new Brady Market opened this past April at 307 Gifford Street in Syracuse. While the market shares the same charisma and mission as The Brady Faith Center, it has its own board, insurance and nonprofit status.

Outwardly, the Brady Market looks like a full-line grocery store that offers prepared foods and produce in a neighborhood that has been considered a food desert. Additionally, with five chefs in the kitchen, hot and cold dishes such as sweet & sour meatballs and rosemary garlic pork tenderloin are offered for both carry-out and catering.

Behind the scenes, Brady Market really is more than any market. Its employees, many of whom are Black and Latino community members, are learning the ins and outs of a business in a 12-to-18-month training program. They are paid to be trained, to work and to engage in mental health therapy and exercise.

Brady Faith Center’s executive director, Kevin Frank, believes that employees are paid to be hopeful. “Hope is a paid job on day one. It’s really hard for folks who have immediate needs yesterday and today to volunteer their time,” Frank stated. “Day one you come in and you are paid even for your work on your health. Hope is how we all begin to fill that safety net.” Brady staff members believe that hope is the foundation on which health, healing, safety and support can grow and flourish.

Brady Market offers hot and cold prepared foods and catering.

Peer Leader, Danielle Allen, started with the organization 4 years ago working at the Brady Farm. Now in the training program to become a store manager, Allen is continually grateful for the organization’s support. It wasn’t long ago that a personal setback, like a minor illness, would overwhelm her. But now, with so much support and encouragement, she knows that she can handle those issues and still move forward. “It’s not just about the food anymore, it’s about the opportunities and the healing that give me hope. The feeling of hope makes a difference in neighborhoods. I love that.”

As an extension of the Brady Faith Center, Brady Market reaps the benefits of a long history of local community connections. Frank understands that being in the neighborhood is the most important way to learn what their neighbors will require to feel safer and build healthy relationships and lives. He heartfully says, “You go out to listen, to learn and to build a relationship of trust. You go out to hear what the community believes the neighborhood needs. And if they trust you enough, they’ll tell you what they need.”

High on that list of needs was a place to find healthy foods. Since many community members lack transportation, the need to buy produce and nutritious foods within their own neighborhood is crucial to their health. So, in addition to learning marketable skills, making living wages and acquiring entrepreneurship information, Frank knew that Brady Faith’s next step was to open the market. After many years of learning from Homeboy Industries, a Los Angeles-based organization that works with community members who were previously incarcerated and needed a job and a support network, Frank and his team took this new endeavor in Syracuse to heart.

Brady Faith, following Homeboy Industries’ model of social entrepreneurship and job training alongside a healing initiative, is right now building what they believe will be a well-rounded program to help community members heal and thrive as they move forward. With a mission statement that is simply, “Hope, health and healing,” the market’s low-to-no-cost fitness and wellness classes help employees and community members embark upon that path.

When Frank and his team realized that the next piece of their mission included building entrepreneurship, they knew that they needed a very broad scope of leadership, contributors, support and a solid funding structure. With the guidance of a Brady Faith supporter, they decided to open the Brady Faith Center Sustainability Fund at the Community Foundation. The fund, which brings the administrative support of the Community Foundation, will allow Brady Faith to focus on its mission, while all donations and transactions will be handled for them.

“Beyond managing donations and appeals, one of the toughest challenges for nonprofits is creating sustainability,” said Tom Griffith, Community Foundation vice president of development. “The beauty in an agency fund that distributes support year-after-year is that agencies aren’t working just to keep the lights on. They can focus on their mission and bring more awareness to their cause, knowing they have sustainable support.”

In the future, Frank would like to have a new space for their Center and offices, which are currently housed in two double-wide trailers on South Ave. He also plans to create more entrepreneurship opportunities like the market.

In the meantime, hope and health are alive and well at the market. With mentorships and a growing business in full swing, more and more people are arriving as patrons, donors and team members.

As Allen aptly stated, “Having hope is great but health is where you begin to start over.”

Danielle Allen and Kevin Frank stand in the produce aisle of Brady Market.

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