PUYALLUP, WASH - They may look like chocolate-covered dessert bars to you, but to the founder of Tacoma Cheesecake, each tasty treat is an answered prayer.
“God reminded me I make really good cheesecake,” laughed Danelle Hillman. “That's really how it started.”
Hillman is a tough lady. She's been a state trooper, a Tacoma police officer and a King County Sheriff's Deputy. But leaving her young daughter to go to work every morning broke her heart.
“It didn't seem right," she said. "God put me on this earth to be Kayla's mommy.”
So in 2015, the year before Kayla became a teenager, Hillman took a leap of faith. She left her law enforcement career behind to start up a company that bakes cheesecake into little frozen bars and dips them in chocolate: Tacoma Cheesecake.
“And it took off,” Hillman said. “People love it. And I thought 'Wow, I think I have something here'”.
Best of all she's found a job closer to home, and closer to Kayla.
“Those teenage years are so difficult on a lot of kids," Hillman said.
Something she knows from experience. We visited the neighborhood where she spent her childhood and looked at photos of a little girl who had a very tough time.
“My mother was an alcoholic and a drug user,” Hillman said. “She had drugs in the house all the time. She drank constantly and I started smoking pot at eight years old. We saw a lot of things in our house growing up that children should not see, did a lot of things that children should not do. So I knew that I would be a completely different mom.”
A completely different mom indeed.
It's a promise Hillman has kept. She is the kind of mom who can always find time to be with her daughter
“It's really nice,” said her daughter Kayla Bentley. “We've always been really close.”
Tacoma Cheesecake bars can be found in the frozen dessert aisle of more than 500 Northwest supermarkets.
Her dessert bars are sweet, but what they've provided this mom is the sweetest gift of all.
“My daughter is my world,” Hillman said. “Everybody who knows me knows that Kayla is my world.”
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