Seasons of Love
By Jennifer McKee | Photos courtesy of Love.Craft Athens
More than 80% of people with disabilities are unemployed and unengaged in their community.
Love.Craft Athens’ mission is to reverse that number and to create a more inclusive community, welcoming developmentally disabled adults into its art, music and job skills programs.
It’s the perfect time of year to get out and show your support, at its “Look What I Can Do” fundraiser, appearances at farmers markets and the purchase of holiday ornaments online.
Love.Craft has been an active force in the Athens community since 2016, and works with 35 adults, called crew members, on a weekly basis.
“It’s a word-of-mouth process,” says Susan Fontaine, executive director and founder of Love.Craft. “People come to us when they’ve aged out of high school or graduated by choice prior to that. We also get requests from caregivers.”
Once inside Love.Craft’s doors, crew members go through an assessment to determine the right path for them. Some embrace their artistic side and create artwork, mugs, jewelry and greeting cards. Others take up an instrument and jam with the Love.Craft Band.
“What better way to engage in Athens than with art and music?” says Fontaine.
Love.Craft also helps crew members find jobs in the community. One of its members is employed at a local car dealership, detailing cars for the past three years. Others work at the Habitat Restore, Levy at The Classic Center, the Athens Area Humane Society and Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, which advocates for the value, inclusion and acceptance of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Once a crew member finds employment, Love.Craft offers a support network should any problems arise.
This winter, crew members will once again create holiday ornaments, each one hand-stamped with the initials of the person who made it, along with a card that offers more details.
“We have a select number of shapes to choose from, so there is a consistent style, but a couple [of crew members] will design their own,” says Fontaine. “They all come out pretty unique.”
In addition, Christmas tree luminaries will be available at the Creature Comforts Holiday Market, along with mugs, plates, jewelry, hand-drawn cards and garlands.
The “Look What I Can Do” fundraiser is also a don’t-miss — five local artists and five crew artists create art on site, then auction it off at the event.
Upcoming Winter 2023 Events
Nov. 1–Dec. 15: Ornaments are available for purchase online
Nov. 1: Athens Farmers Market at Creature Comforts Brewing Company
Nov. 17: “Look What I Can Do” fundraiser with a live art show and auction
Dec. 16: Creature Comforts Holiday Market
To keep up on special events, follow Love.Craft Athens on Facebook at facebook.com/lovecraftathens.