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A Gillette center for troubled youth has developed a doughnut business

YES House teacher Paul Utzman (far left), three students, and YES House Executive Director Ryan Anderson (far left) make doughnuts as part of a student-centered business teaching entrepreneurship skills.
Hugh Cook
/
Wyoming Public Media
YES House teacher Paul Utzman (far left), two students, and YES House Executive Director Ryan Anderson (far right) make doughnuts as part of a student-centered business teaching entrepreneurship skills.

The Youth Emergency Services, or YES House in Gillette has created Holy Moly Donuts. It's part of the non profits intro to business course. The organization works to assist youth and families in crisis and provides resources to keep them together whenever possible. They offer residential and day treatment options in addition to educational opportunities, like this class.

“[We] started back in the fall of 2022, so it started [back] in September, October, and we had a therapist that had had given them the doughnut recipe after they had [thought of] the idea of doughnuts for their intro to business, money 101 project,” said Ryan Anderson, Executive Director of the YES House. “We were trying to get [the name] to catch on when people try and say that [the doughnuts are] good. We're like, ‘You got to say, Holy Moly.’ Because the doughnuts are so good you'll say ‘Holy Moly.’”

A student preparing donuts wears a specialized sweatshirt with the Holy Moly Donuts logo in the YES House's kitchen facilties.
Hugh Cook
/
Wyoming Public Media
A student preparing donuts wears a specialized sweatshirt with the Holy Moly Donuts logo in the YES House's kitchen facilties.

Their operations took off when students also expressed interest in a doughnut business. An order form was created, and the idea began to spread amongst the staff of the facility. After formally getting the YES House board’s approval of the idea, staff proceeded to work through the health standards that are necessary for the business.

“It's fun to see the kids get excited about something and be passionate about stuff because there's a lot of reasons to find negative[s] and things, but this has just been a really cool positive experience,” he said. “And they've [the students have] really enjoyed it.”

Approval was also granted to upgrade the operation when a $1,200 industrial doughnut maker was purchased. It only makes mini doughnuts, unlike the previous home doughnut maker, which could make three different sizes. The business brings in about $100/week and has raised enough money to pay the board back for the doughnut maker and build a reserve account. Students are tasked with focusing on different areas of the business, including the money aspect, sales, and delivery.

A $1,200 doughnut maker was purchased by the YES House's board to help with Holy Moly Donuts. It replaced a household doughnut maker that belonged to a staff member. The business has brought in enough money from sales that they've paid back the board for the maker and have set aside funds for future use.
Hugh Cook
/
Wyoming Public Media
A $1,200 doughnut maker was purchased by the YES House's board to help with Holy Moly Donuts. It replaced a household doughnut maker that belonged to a staff member. The business has brought in enough money from sales that they've paid back the board for the maker and have set aside funds for future use.

The mini doughnuts resemble onion rings once they’re done with the frying process. Toppings, such as sprinkles, sugar, and even small slices of banana, are placed on top after being emptied into large trays.

“They [the staff and students] get them piping hot and fresh, and so that's a lot of fun. The staff enjoy getting those,” Anderson said. “Sometimes they sold so many that were like, ‘Okay, we're going to start a bit earlier, because we may not have enough time to make all these,’ but we had some phenomenal salespeople, and they, our staff, were extremely supportive.”

YES House Executive Director Ryan Anderson stirs batter that's used to make doughnuts.
Hugh Cook
/
Wyoming Public Media
YES House Executive Director Ryan Anderson stirs batter that's used to make doughnuts.

Exposure of the program through local media has increased the awareness of popularity of the doughnut-making operation. In addition to making them for staff and students at the YES House, Anderson and teacher Paul Utzman were taking three of the students that had prepared a batch of several hundred mini doughnuts to the local senior citizens center. Orders for the doughnuts are taken on Wednesday and delivered on Friday. There were about 10 to 12 students participating in the program last quarter and 15 this quarter.

Orders of 100 doughnuts or more are becoming more common, which are packaged in small Styrofoam soup bowls. Six doughnuts are placed in each plastic container with a lid that’s labeled with the contents, such as if they have sugar, sprinkles, or banana. Larger orders are placed in Styrofoam containers with similar labeling.

A tray of finished doughnuts awaits to be packaged and delivered to students and staff at the YES House. What started as an in-house endeavor has since expanded to outside locations, such as the local senior center.
Hugh Cook
/
Wyoming Public Radio
A tray of finished doughnuts awaits to be packaged and delivered to students and staff at the YES House. What started as an in-house endeavor has since expanded to outside locations, such as the local senior center.

“Because the class is just one quarter and we didn't want to end up in a situation where it wasn't going to build up [to] something that wasn't going to be sustainable,” Anderson said. “But at this point, now, it's, it's kind of taking on a life of its own.”

The doughnuts cost approximately eight cents each to make with a profit margin of 82 percent, figures that were calculated in the intro to business class. There’s plans of making the program an after school project and even taking their operation on the road in the form of a food cart or truck to service various events in the community. There’s a desire to make this happen if conditions prove favorable, Utzman said.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.

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