White glue, mat board, tissue paper, printed images, paintbrushes, hair dryers, hot glue guns. Alone, these items are average however, once together, these items become extraordinary. This transformation happens at Stride Night inside Grand Valley Institution (GVI) for Women. Over two nights, many hands come together to create individual pieces that are collaged together to make one-of-a-kind greeting cards. By the time a card has been packaged and ready to be sold, approximately 8-10 different individuals have been directly involved in creating that card.
The transformation from ordinary to extraordinary doesn’t stop there. Cards are sold in the community by vendors who take the time to tell customers about the cards. They tell customers that 100% of the proceeds are donated to local non-profit agencies that support women and children. They also tell them that so far, donations have reached $5500.00.
Ready for another level of extraordinary? The agencies selected to receive the donations are chosen by the card makers – the women at GVI. Recipients are invited to come to GVI for a donation ceremony where a BIG cheque for $500.00 is presented. The donation ceremony is a celebration of many things for the incarcerated women: being able to contribute to community from behind prison walls, feeling a sense of purpose, receiving gratitude, connecting with community members and being seen as caring and creative individuals – not just as inmates. Recipients share how the money will benefit the people they work with, thank the card makers and get to see incarcerated individuals as people. Every donation ceremony radiates with gratitude and positivity, and is filled with singing, poetry, speeches and cake!
Could there be room for any more extraordinary?
Yep, others think so too. It’s not just me.
“It’s nice to give back to the community because the community has given us so much.” Fresh Start Creations Participant
“I find it fulfilling to know that I can give back to the community by creating these beautiful cards that bring joy into people’s lives. It’s a wonderful project that brings together people on the inside and in the community”. Fresh Start Creations Participant
“I carry Fresh Start Creations cards in my shop because I feel that the program is a way of connecting people; from the creator to the shop owner, to the customer who buys the card and finally to the recipient. We are all connected through this one item; we are all equal through this one item. It allows me to participate, in a small way, to something larger and to promote equality of all involved.” Fresh Start Creations vendor, Gifted
“I hope Open Sesame contributes to GVI residents’ sense of belonging. By selling their cards, we show them that their work is appreciated, and we help them contribute to local non-profits who benefit greatly from their efforts.” Fresh Start Creations vendor, Open Sesame
A Fresh Start Creations card is more than a card, it’s:
- Community building
- Helping others
- Challenging stereotypes
- Creative expression
- Sense of purpose
Fresh Start Creations Cards are sold at:
Queen St. Commons, Gifted Waterloo, Button Factory Arts, Open Sesame, Waterloo Region Museum, CJI and at Queens Park Gift Shop in Toronto and for the first time at the Stitch n’ Kitsch Craft Collective Winter Market https://www.facebook.com/stitchnkitsch/ on December 1st.
Want to learn more about Fresh Start Creations?