Our Initiative

Cypress House at St. Luke’s is an affiliated 501(c)(3) non-profit organization of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Scranton, Pennsylvania. St. Luke’s has long had a focus of reaching out to the community and living into our historic motto, “In the heart of things.” In that same spirit, Cypress House at St. Luke’s seeks to offer social services based on the needs of the surrounding community.

Cypress House was inspired by the Bakery at HomeBoy Industries in Los Angeles. Founded and directed by Gregory Boyle, S. J., HomeBoy Industries began as a bakery in a gang-ridden neighborhood which provided employment to rival gang members. It is now the largest gang-intervention program providing social services in the world. In 2019, Mother Barnes and Dr. Wolf met with Boyle in Los Angeles to discuss the creation of a comprehensive program dedicated to applying the same loving and spiritual sentiments to the Scranton community.

The Rev’d Rebecca Barnes, Dr. Helen Wolf, Lisa (HomeBoy tour guide) and Sharon Crandall visiting Homeboy Industries

When talking about helping those formerly incarcerated, conversations often focus on the crimes that were committed. Not discussed as often is how to assist those wanting to work toward positive change, specifically in offering employment opportunities to build careers while honoring the dignity of those who have experienced incarceration.

– Dr. Helen Wolf, Cypress House Board Member

At St. Luke’s, Cypress House bakery would be located initially in the church kitchen, while a larger downstairs space is renovated into a non-profit commercial bakery and café. The short-term goal is to teach marketable skills via baking gourmet cookies, pastry, croissants, and other baked goods, freshly made daily on the premises using top-quality ingredients. In addition to job training, the program will be directed by a social services professional highly skilled at counseling and vocational training in a culturally sensitive manner. Actual apprenticeships will be awarded by a licensed baker.

The long-term goal of Cypress House is to develop a viable business run entirely by those re-entering society to rival commercial bakeries in daily production and sales volume. Supported by the bakery’s success, Cypress House would expand to provide a range of social services such as counseling, addiction recovery, and educational opportunities.

For further details click to read our Strategic Plan and our Annual Report.

Mother Barnes with Jose Arellano, Co-director of Case Management and Navigation at HomeBoy

“Its about kinship. Breaking down those barriers of ‘other’, or ‘those people.’ It’s about building relationships with people in the community.”

– Mother Barnes, Cypress House President and CEO, Rector of St. Luke’s

To grant the project a viable start, Cypress House is in the process of raising $400,000 to cover the renovation of church buildings and a year’s worth of operating costs. To find out more about how your donation will be helpful, please read our Case for Support. If you are interested in supporting the work of Cypress House, please contact us at info@cypresshouse.org or 570-342-7654 or donate today via the button below.