Showing kindness by baking

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By HEIDI BENDIKSON and LUCY WORMALD

Kindness with a dash of sugar are the secret ingredients of Good Bitches Baking (GBB) — a nationwide charity using sweet treats to help those going through tough times.

Established in Wellington in 2015 when co-founders Nic Murray and Marie Fitzpatrick decided to harness the power of baking to ‘‘make Aotearoa the kindest place on Earth’’,
GBB now runs 28 chapters around the country.

‘‘Head bitch’’ of the Queenstown and Central Otago chapter Leonard Kurpuis says he has no qualms about his title — fitting GBB’s description of a ‘‘good bitch’’ as someone who ‘‘gets stuff done, no mucking around’’ to a T.

Operating as ‘‘the charity behind the charities’’, GBB supports volunteer bakers to make and deliver cookies, cakes and slices of any kind to local charities, Kurpuis says.

‘‘We go to the organisation [with baked goods] and then we leave the organisation in charge of identifying which clients are in most need of some delicious kindness.’’

The Queenstown chapter supplies treats to Happiness House, Baskets of Blessing, Age Concern, Able Minds and Southland Cancer Society, and is now on a mission to increase its contribution of sugar, butter and kindness to the wider region.

Sharing the role of head bitch with Ani Hobson since December last year, Kurpuis says the pair have doubled volunteer bakers to 42 and tripled the recipients in their chapter.

‘‘[Since working together] we’ve expanded out to the wider Central Otago area, so we’ve just taken on Alexandra, we’ve also just moved in to Wānaka, and we’re looking at Cromwell next,’’ Kurpuis says.

Originally from Seattle, Kurpuis’ go-to was American-style cookies, but lockdown saw his passion for baking flourish — and come late last year he decided to marry his hobby with a good cause.

‘‘It’s just something that I learned at a really early age, my mum would always have us baking for people in the neighbourhood or the whanau.

‘‘When someone’s baked, specifically thinking about someone who’s had a hard time, it’s really special for someone to receive that and just know that someone took the time and energy to bake something for them.’’

Arrowtown resident and GBB volunteer baker Viv Madsen-Ries says her specialty is decorated cupcakes, which she describes as a happy kind of baking.

‘‘I thought it was a fabulous idea and I really love baking, so I thought it was a wonderful way to use that passion to help people out.

‘‘I like to think that when the recipients open the box that they smile.’’

Always looking to welcome new volunteers, Kurpuis says the sense of delivering kindness is rewarding for ‘‘good bitches’’.

‘‘I think that the bakers do definitely feel like they are, especially in today’s world, helping everyone just think of being a little more kind.’’

GBB is raising funds to support local chapters through the sale of new cookbook Mahi Pekena Mareikura, which features 50 recipes from volunteers around the country, baking
royalty Jo Seagar and Allyson Gofton, and national icons the Topp Twins and Benee.

lucy.wormald@scene.co.nz