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Simple House Building / May 24, 2016

FRESNO, Calif. — Eight-year-old Jalen Bailey was saving some of his money. He wanted to buy a KitchenAid stand mixer. It mixes cookie and cake batter.

His mom taught him to save for the "good stuff" and he’s running a bakery. Someone recently gave him the mixer he wanted. Now he’s back to saving up for the rest of the good stuff on his good list.

His No. 1 thing on his wish list is a house for himself and his single mom. They live in a small apartment they rent in central Fresno.

Jalen says he wants a house with a bigger kitchen. It would let him bake more things and make more memories with his mom.

"House, College, Puppy And Savings"

He’s enjoyed baking with his mom, Sharhonda Mahan, for many years, but he has been more passionate since July 1, when he founded Jalen’s Bakery to help make his dreams come true. Jalen counts the things his money is going toward on one hand: “House, college, puppy and savings.”

Then he changes his mind a little while looking at his mom, as if not to hurt her feelings in describing what counts as good stuff. He’s sitting beside her on the sofa, an arm wrapped affectionately around her waist: “I mean, not houses, you don’t have to … ” His voice fades, and he looks down at the floor. He mulls over what he said for a moment, then he gets excited, and he’s sitting upright again, bright-eyed. “But – we want to!” he says.

His mother told him not to worry about the house, she’s working on that, but he’s still saving for it. Jalen doesn’t just want a house for a bigger kitchen. He wants a golden retriever. Dogs aren’t allowed in the apartment he shares with his mom.

“It looks beauuuutifuuuullll!” he says of his dream dog.

Helping Children With School Supplies

Jalen also has a GoFundMe website where people can give money.

“My mommy told me about how there are a lot of homeless people in the world, ” Jalen says. “I didn’t want anybody to feel left out, because there are a lot of kids walking home with their backpacks with all their school supplies. Maybe they (homeless children) were watching them. Maybe they wanted those things.”

He started collecting supplies for these children when he was 5 years old. He wants to give them much more.

“If we get enough money, we could buy everything for the little children and they’ll be screaming, ‘Yaaaayyyyy!’ I’m going to try to give everything, everything, everything, everything — I should stop saying everything, ” Jalen adds with a giggle.

Mahan says Jalen came up with the collection drive on his own. She’s floored by it because “that’s something you can’t teach

Early Start In Business

Still, there’s no doubting how well she’s raised her only child. She explains that she decided to home-school Jalen until last year and make a living working as a nanny from home so she could spend more time with her son. Jalen said, “It’s not just so sweet, it’s very, very, very extraordinaaaary sweet! Because my mommy is the best mom on the planet. She’s really great.”

Mahan helped plant the seed for Jalen’s business goals. She majored in business at the University of Phoenix in Fresno. She has been teaching Jalen about wise money management and entrepreneurship for some time. Mahan says it’s information that she wishes someone had taught her as a child, and that she doesn’t want Jalen to have to live “paycheck to paycheck.” She started educating him early, teaching him his first words as a baby. By the time he was old enough to start school, she says, a test showed Jalen was already reading at a second-grade level.

Baked Goods Delivered

“I have so many big things for him, you know, ” Mahan says, “and I’m just like, ‘I want you to try your best. Just figure out what it is that you like, and whatever it is that you like, I’m going to support you completely.’”

Right now, that means helping Jalen run a bakery from their apartment.

Customers can order Jalen’s baked goods — or a Jalen’s Bakery T-shirt — online. Jalen will deliver the goods locally. Mahan says the health department approved a number of goodies, including cookies, cakes and banana nut bread. Customers can order other treats, but Jalen needs to like it first.