Not Just Sewing and Sports at The Lower Eastside Girls Club, but a CSA, a Coffeeshop and a Cookie Academy

Lisa Chan takes part in a Girls Club workshop. Tanya Braganti for The NY Daily News

For 15 years The Lower Eastside Girls Club on 56 E. First Street has served as a place where inner city chicks between the ages of 8 and 23 can go to improve their bodies and minds through yoga, photography, filmmaking, museum trips, book clubs, arts and crafts classes, nutrition workshops… and just making friends and having a good time. Perhaps just as importantly, they can also work on their resumes.

Older kids in particular help the Club run real businesses like its community radio station, an art gallery and our two favorite programs, a real bakery and coffee shop and the CSA with Breezy Hill Orchards the Club calls Farm Girls. (Breezy Hill also puts out produce at La Tiendita, the kids-made crafts shop the Girls Club helps run in the Essex Market and in their main office on First Street.)

No fools, these ladies! The founders of the Girls Club also know learning about how food is made and grown provides benefits beyond job skills like money and time management, bookkeeping or commercial kitchen production, including sanitation and city rules. Though those real world skills come in handy too, especially for a target group of girls that typically has lower rates of high school and college graduation.

And The Sweet Things Bake Shop/Celebrate Cafe in particular is worth a visit, if you’ve never stopped in. It’s at 136 Avenue C between 8th and 9th Streets, and is open from 9 a.m. 5 p.m. Little kids help bake cookies and brownies and can take part in an 8-week Cookie Academy, while bigger kids help run the place and the coffee shop. Prices are very reasonable, the baked goods are delicious and the staff is just as sweet.

While cutting-edge programs like the bake shop bring in real funds to the Club, the place can’t operate without community support. Hence their Fall Benefit at Astor Center on September 12th. The Club is also in the final stages of a $20 million capital campaign to build their first and only Girls Club community center on Avenue D between E. Seventh and Eighth Streets. It’ll be a LEED certified green building, and is planned for 2012.  The event is called Crafts & Cocktails, includes both of those, plus some serious snacks, and tickets start at just $40. Better still, a copy of Edible Manhattan will be in your gift bag. Learn more about it right here.

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