GRAFTON — Haley Berland has been baking ever since she can remember. After her father, Kevin Berland, passed away of congestive heart failure in 2007 at the age of 44, Haley dreamed of the day when she could use her passion for baking to honor her father’s memory.
Now a junior at Grafton High School in York County, Haley launched The Kevin Berland Foundation this year, selling her own baked goods to support heart disease research. She hopes to apply for nonprofit status in the near future.
“I wanted to start it to honor my dad,” Haley said, adding that she wanted to bring awareness to heart disease. “And, of course, I love baking so what better way to raise money. My father had a huge sweet tooth so there is just no other way to honor him than by baking.”
Heart disease was one of many ailments Kevin Berland faced. Haley said that her father was born prematurely, which caused him to have underdeveloped heart and lungs, and was later diagnosed with heart disease.
Despite pain and the other struggles he faced, such as “bouncing from doctor to doctor,” Haley remembers her father’s positive outlook on life and that his goal was to never leave a room without making someone smile.
One of her favorite memories was when he attended one of her Girl Scout meetings and decided to try and make the approximately thirty elementary aged girls in her troop laugh by “dancing around like a goofball.”
“I cherish those moments,” Haley said. “He would just dance around and we would all giggle. He would do anything for everybody.”
Haley said her father and her mother, Stacey Berland, ran a business in Newport News called H.W. Enterprises. Haley learned a great deal from her parents and has put that knowledge to work in starting the foundation.
“Honestly, I’ve had this idea for a long time but I, myself, have many health issues and that’s really affected my school work. So I don’t really have a lot of time because I’m usually catching up,” Haley said.
She said that she has been diagnosed with narcolepsy, pleurisy, cataplexy, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, all of which were once a hindrance in making the foundation a reality.
But now Haley is in a healthier place and has received treatment for her diagnoses. She feels that she can finally use her baking skills to benefit heart disease research and to honor her father.
When asked why she chose to sell baked goods in order to raise money towards heart disease research, Haley said that, besides her passion for baking, her entire family could be described as “chocoholics.”
For Haley, baking is a family tradition. She said that her grandmother was an amazing baker, leaving the family with thousands of her own recipes. She also said that mother makes “intricate cakes” for her friends on special occasions. Haley was raised in environment that encouraged her natural passion to cook and to bake.
“My mom is the queen of making fudge,” Haley said. She added that her family makes roughly 50 pounds of it every year.
“She is a big believer in trying things on your own,” Haley said of her mother. “I grew up a little miniature business woman. I’m a very independent person, I like to fail on my own”
And Haley Berland’s newest item? “Ginormous” cream puffs.
“They’re way way too big,” Haley said, adding that she decided to add them to the menu, despite never making one before.
“They are probably the size of a grapefruit,” she added. “I wasn’t even planning on selling cream puffs this week.”
The foundation sells an assortment of baked goods from lemon raspberry cookies, that include lemon buttercream icing with raspberries on top to “fruit pizzas,” which are sugar cookies with vanilla buttercream icing. The “fruit pizzas” are topped with fresh fruit such as strawberries and kiwis. Haley also works with her mother to bake homemade fudge and chocolate chip cookies with vanilla buttercream icing and toasted coconut.
Haley is hopeful that she will be able to incorporate some of her father’s favorites like Dr. Pepper or red hot candies in her future creations.
The prices for the items sold through the foundation vary. For just $5, a customer can order a batch of five cookies and $10 for 10 cookies. The family-favorite fudge pieces (1” x 1.5”) are $1 a piece, and the cream puffs cost $15 for a half dozen or $25 for a dozen.
While Haley has not yet created an official website for the foundation, supporters can order these delicious treats through the foundation’s Instagram page or by calling 757-690-5775. She asks that supports pay using Venmo or Cash App.
Haley makes local deliveries on the weekends, personally drop of the baked goods to her customers’ houses, making sure to wear a mask and gloves.
She thinks about her father’s positive spirit often. Haley said that she had recently undergone a surgery that didn’t go well. What lifted her was thinking about a quote her father used to say: “It is better me than someone else who could not take it.” Haley said that her father would always find silver linings in difficult situations as well as the good in every person.
She added that during her father’s many treatments, he never complained, always had a smile on his face and would not leave the room until he saw someone else smile.
“I hope that my future husband is even half the man he was,” she said.
“Myself, I’m a realist,” Haley said, adding that she tends to see the glass as half empty. “[But] I see a little of myself in him. He has definitely made me the person I am today.”
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