Cynthia, left, and Brenda Britt hold a purse that Cynthia made in Creative Expressions. Cynthia is starting her own business, Cynthia Sews, to sell items that she makes.
A little more than a year after it began, Creative Expressions, a sewing club for Easterseals Arc consumers, has become not just a creative outlet but also a way to make money for the people who take part.
There are now about 50 consumers who take part in Creative Expressions. They’ve created so many placemats, purses, scarves, pillow covers and other products that they’re ready to go on the road, said Barb Woods, assistant director of Projects Drive Group.
“We’ve got enough inventory to do local sales this fall,” she said. At prices ranging from about $5 to $20, Creative Expressions already has sold $1,500 worth of items. On Aug. 22, Woods welcomed dozens of the people who’ve tried their hands at sewing to celebrate. Besides enjoying refreshments and receiving certificates for their sewing work, those in the group also were scheduled to receive money later that afternoon for their products which had been sold.
Woods said the group began because not everyone who wants to work is best suited for the sorting, assembling and inspecting that is often part of the industrial type of tasks in PDG.
Brenda Britt, the seamstress and teacher who leads Creative Expressions, began as a volunteer. Easterseals Arc administrators are so pleased with the work that she does that she is now a contract employee. Britt said teaching sewing at Easterseals Arc continues a long history of working with people with disabilities.
“I worked at Arc for 10 years, right out of school,” Britt said. “Then I worked for 23 years in special education at East Allen (County Schools).”
Woods praised Britt’s ingenuity in designing patterns that make the most of donated fabric. A big part of the program’s success has been the community supporters who’ve helped provide the equipment and material the club needs. Woods mentioned Edwards Sewing Center in Fort Wayne, which sold Easterseals Arc discounted sewing machines. Britt also thanked individuals who donated much of the fabric, including Pam Porter, Denise Hatfield, Sylvia Atkinson, Teresa Rust and Sherry Walton. Some have a personal connection with Easterseals Arc; others just believe in what the group is trying to do and want to help.
All the fabric used in the group is donated. “It’s creative and a challenge to make the most we can out of all the pieces that we have,” Britt said.
A star in the celebration was Easterseals Arc consumer Cynthia. She has taken to sewing so much that staff members are helping her launch Cynthia Sews, her own company selling items she’s produced.