Peoria realtor uses his passion for baking to help the community

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — It’s a love for baking and serving his city.

A Peoria realtor is turning his hobby into something that’s helping the community, too. Mike Van Cleve sells houses and said his passion is serving others.

“One of the things I love about this community is that people have this incredible kind of warmth and gratitude for each other,” said Van Cleve.

On the side, he’s typically baking in the kitchen.

“It’s not really what I’m making, it’s the joy and the positivity that ripples from that,” said Van Cleve.

Sometimes, he’s baking what he calls his “closing cookies” or, more recently, bagels.

“I got a little frustrated one day when I was like, ‘We do so many great things in our community, why can I not find a great bagel?’” said Van Cleve.

During the pandemic, he started making them for family and friends too.

“I do what I do because I love serving other people and baking is a tangible way to create something that brings joy to other people,” said Van Cleve.

Eventually, his passion turned into “Love Peoria Bagels”. The name was inspired by a speaker he heard at a Dream Center Peoria event a few years ago. Now, he brings bagels to different organizations and groups across the city.

“I wanted to embody something that kind of showed the light and helped other people spread that love and positivity about our community,” said Van Cleve.

All he asks is people pay it forward, by donating to local charities.

“For me, it was a way to, have a different kind of commerce,” said Van Cleve.

It’s his way of celebrating Peoria and the people who make it what it is.

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