I am filling out my schedule of events, and it will soon be getting very busy. April is the start of the Art Garage. This was the seminal project which inspired the Community House Network. This year our opening will be both of the Art Garage, and the Shop Co-Op which will host the First Apprentice program as well as other activities designed to promote training in the trades. I have often spoken to the power of creativity to transform people's lives. The trades have just as much power to transform not just individual's lives, but whole neighborhoods.
My neighborhood was built by people who worked in the trades and built their own houses. The Chrysalis House was built by a plumber, and has a bunch of incredible details. When people build their own houses they care about those things.
So I live in a neighborhood with houses that were built with such care, and so many are now in complete neglect or disrepair. It is not a matter of not caring, but not having the know-how, or money to pay someone else to do it. This can leave people somewhat helpless.
When people know how to fix their own properties, they can customize them to their hearts desire. What a difference it would make if we could have more home-ownership and a greater knowledge base in the trades so that home-owners could create and take care of the house of their dreams.
Besides just the Art Garage, we have a new project starting in April, The First Apprentice. This is a project-based youth centered program designed to teach kids some of the basic skills of the trades while giving them a chance to build small, fun projects. Our session project to be held on April 10th will be hosted by no other than Ed Boley, of Boley Tools. He will teach the kids to make Antler Lamps. Now that is a cool project. I will have to let you know how it turns out.
Things are moving along, and I am starting be discover some of the incredible resources available to the Community House Network. It seems that there are many corporations that are happy to participate in donating goods to a community non-profit. So far each of the building supply stores we contacted, had things in place to allow them to donate materials for good causes. I am excited because up to this point I have been paying out of pocket for all of the art materials and building supplies we have used at the Art Garage. I am so grateful to Dayna Crocker for helping me realize that help and kindness abounds.
This March we are starting our lecture series called "If I Knew Then". Rather than lectures, these will be more like interviews in an open forum where small business owners will share about their experiences opening up a business. I was sharing this idea with a friend Theresa Bloom who as it turns out works for an organization affiliated with Bradley University, ILSBDC, supporting small business start-ups.
Here is a link to register for their services https://ilsbdc.ecenterdirect.com/info
I am curious to know more, and when I registered for their services, I saw that their upcoming informational support meeting was to be hosted exactly during the hours of our monthly open board meeting. Well why not? So I have put on the agenda that we as a board attend the meeting. I hope everyone can make it. What a great way to expand our circle of knowledge.
I am grateful for those who are participating and helping realize this dream. My hope is that by sharing some of these resources and experiences, others will have an easier road ahead. I know how much I appreciate those who have shown up thus far to help direct me.
Prayer for the day: May I always remain open and teachable.
When I first designed the Community House Network it included in the foundational documents a women's recovery house, "The Chrysalis House". My first steps towards formalizing the project involved a conversation with Peoria based SCORE. Now that I am more in the swing of things with this process, I should look more into what SCORE does in the community of small business entrepreneurialism. Although they got me started and gave me some great ideas, they were limited in their ability to help me with the documents and other fine details I needed to understand about becoming a NFP.
Through their guidance, I created an initial business plan. It included all the spaces: The Center for Creative Learning at 800 W. Thrush, The Art Garage (800 W. Thrush - Rear), The Community House (2223 N. Sheridan Rd), The Shop Co-Op (2225 N. Sheridan - Rear) AND The Chrysalis House (2225 N. Sheridan). During our conversation around the plan, I had concerns about including the recovery home. I still planned to do it, but I thought I would keep it separate from the NFP. The primary reasons for that was to keep it private, and also because I intended to charge women to stay there. I was afraid the stream of revenue would cause problems for me.
Well, now that I am in full swing, I see that the Chrysalis House needs to be brought back as a part of the picture.
Reasons for making the Chrysalis House part of the CHN:
1. Can collect donations to support activities for the house.
2. Can put the house itself in the name of the foundation.
3. Can allow women who are jobless more time to get on their feet, and stay without rent.
4. Can use some of our fundraising to make repairs in the Chrysalis House.
The women are already participating in the activities of the CHN. I hope they will be big members of the network when they graduate!
An Idealist-Realist. Striving to Bring those Idealistic Dreams into Reality.