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St. John's Bakery in Toronto's gritty east side is a business, not a charity, says Father Roberto Ubertino, executive director of the St. John's Mission. But the bakery, a social enterprise, serves a social purpose - its staff includes refugees and immigrants with little English, former drug addicts, people with mental or physical disabilities. The bakery's organic, traditional and highly regarded products are sold in farmers' markets, specialty food stores and other venues across Toronto. 'We're a business with a social mandate,' Father Roberto says. 'And we're proving this can pay for itself.'

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Pastry and sweets baker Stephanie Smith shares a laugh with Father Roberto Ubertino, executive director of St. John the Compassionate Mission and St. John's Bakery in the bakery on Broadview Avenue in Toronto.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

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Sweets baker Stephanie Smith at St. John's Bakery. The bakery gives people a chance at steady employment, like Ms. Smith, a mother of three who had to go back to school and spent months looking for work before getting a job at the organic bakery.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

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Sweets and pastry baker Stephanie Smith puts cookies in the oven at St. John's Bakery on Broadview Ave. in Toronto. The bakery is a social enterprise business owned and operated by St. John's The Compassionate Mission.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

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Sweets and pastry chef Stephanie Smith with freshly baked cookies at St. John's Bakery. The bakery gives people who might not otherwise have a chance get steady employment. 'This job means a lot to me,' Ms. Smith says.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and mail/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

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Fresh cookies are packaged for sale at the social enterprise St. John's Bakery in Toronto. The bakery sells its organic products at farmers' markets, restaurants and specialty food stores across the city.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

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Olive and cilantro bread dough is being ready to be mixed at St. John's Bakery in Toronto. The bakery employs people at the edges of society - refugees with little English, former drug addicts, the homeless and those with physical or mental disabilities.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

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Father Roberto Ubertino, executive director of St. John the Compassionate Mission, talks with baker John Kipphoff at St. John's Bakery on Broadview Ave. in Toronto. Bakery staff use organic ingredients and 200-year-old recipes from Brittany to produce their handmade bread.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

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Baker John Kipphoff puts some bread on the shelf for sale at St. John's Bakery in Toronto. The bakery can put out 2,500 loaves in an eight-hour shift.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

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Fresh bread ready to go at St. John's Bakery, Toronto. A social enterprise business owned and operated by St. John's The Compassionate Mission, the bakery has a twin goal of generating income and serving a social purpose.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

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'It's meant a new lease, a new chapter in my life,' says pastry chef Stephanie Smith, seen here serving a customer at St. John's Bakery in Toronto.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

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Cookies packaged for sale at St. John's Bakery in Toronto. Owned and operated by St. John's The Compassionate Mission, it is one of 150 for-profit and non-profit social ventures to spring up in the city, half of them in the last five years.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

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'We're still fine-tuning the formula' for St. John's Bakery, says Father Roberto Ubertino, executive director of St. John the Compassionate Mission. 'We're a business with a social mandate. And we're proving this can pay for itself.'

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

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