The sweet, sweet charity dishing out kindness around Aotearoa

A charity dishing out sweet acts of kindness is showing people going through tough times that there's always someone who cares about them. 

Good Bitches Baking provides delicious treats baked by volunteers to organisations all around Aotearoa, with recipients including homeless shelters, soup kitchens, boarding houses, refuges​,​ ​NICUs ​and mental health support services. 

​​Good Bitches Baking is one of the charities taking part in Z Energy's (Z) Good in the Hood campaign for 2023. Good in the Hood supports local community groups by giving them a share of $1 million to do good in their neighbourhood. ​​​ 

​​​Good in the Hood allows customers to have a say in how the $1 million will be split between groups, by using a little orange token to vote for their favourite local group. The number of votes each group receives helps determine how the funds will be allocated between groups in the community. This year, Good Bitches Baking was chosen to participate at 17 sites across the country.​​​​​​ 

The charity was founded in 2014 by Nic Murray and Marie Fitzpatrick, who had both been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness ​during a difficult time in their lives and knew the power these gestures could have. After initially starting as a Facebook ​post​​​, Good Bitches Baking now has 30 chapters across the country, with over 3,000 volunteers baking up a storm and spreading their sweet, sweet kindness far and wide. 

While the charity's local chapters organise the baking - matching bakers, delivery drivers and organisations - each organisation ​distributes the baking to the people they support however works best for them​. Katy Rowden, the charity's general manager, says the aim is to provide ​​people experiencing a tough time with special treats, not basic food provisions for survival.  

"A lot of these organisations are dealing with some really tough things every single day and supporting people in the most phenomenal ways," says Rowden.

"We simply support these organisations by offering homemade treats made with love and no judgement by our volunteers. It's a little gesture that says we see you and we care". 

"The idea is that this is a yummy treat that's symbolic of the thought that's gone behind it." 

In the past 12 months alone​,​ nearly 27,000 boxes of sweetness were baked by volunteers, spreading the message that "someone who doesn't know you at all would care enough to be thinking of you when you're going through a tough time". 

The charity has also recently relaunched its Prison Bake programme, working with inmates at Hawke's Bay Regional Prison and Christchurch Women's Prison. As part of the programme,​ which teaches concepts of kindness as well as baking skills,​ prisoners meet once a week for six weeks to bake their own tasty goods to send out into the community.  

​​The programme will be extended to Otago Corrections Facility early next year, and the charity hopes to roll it out to even more prisons across the country in the near future. Rowden says Good Bitches Baking is "absolutely delighted" to be involved in Z’s Good in the Hood campaign.  

"To have this support is phenomenal," she says, adding that as well as the financial assistance Good in the Hood offers it's also a valuable opportunity to spread the word about what Good Bitches Baking is doing and hopefully recruit even more volunteers, or, as the charity calls them, "good bitches". 

Rowden acknowledges that by using the b-word in its name the charity is being "purposefully provocative to get attention" but notes the use of the word is gender neutral and stresses "we stand proud with our name". On its website, the charity explains that its use of "bitch" is about addressing double standards and an attempt to reclaim the word in a positive way. 

"To us, calling someone a good bitch is high praise," the charity's website reads. 

"It packs a whole lot more punch than 'you're a nice person' and it implies action, hard work and even humility. Put simply, a good bitch is someone who just goes about getting stuff done, no mucking around." 

There's also room for "good bitches" who can't bake to help out at the charity, with volunteers also needed to deliver baking. Those who do bake, generally donate all their own ingredients, as well as their time, says Rowden, but there is a "cup of sugar fund" to help buy ingredients for people who are keen to contribute but lack the financial means to do so.  

In general, volunteers bake about twice a month and Rowden believes one reason why the charity has grown so quickly is due to the freedom it offers its bakers. 

"It's a way for us to encourage volunteering to happen in a way that is relevant and possible for 21st-century working people. ​A lot ​of our volunteers work full or part-time and they often have families and lots of other obligations, so we offer really flexible opportunities for people to get involved as little or as often as they like." 

She adds that while the organisation has "some phenomenally talented bakers ​who ​do very fancy things" she stresses to anyone interested in volunteering that "it's not actually about how fancy the baking is - it's about the intention behind it". 

This year, Z will surpass the $10 million milestone in donations to community groups and charities throughout Aotearoa New Zealand since 2011, largely enabled through its Good in the Hood programme. 

Article created in partnership with Z Energy.