Good Life

The Makery looks to brighten lives of girls in group home

From left, Stormbreak residential child care worker Ashley Garbrick works with Kayla Garcia and Destiney Butler on craft projects Saturday at The Makery in State College.
From left, Stormbreak residential child care worker Ashley Garbrick works with Kayla Garcia and Destiney Butler on craft projects Saturday at The Makery in State College. psheehan@centredaily.com

When the girls from the Stormbreak girls group home found out they’d be going to The Makery for weekly arts and crafts, Stormbreak Program Director Vanessa Szucs remembers there was a lot of excitement.

A few months later, the girls are hooked. They’re at the downtown State College studio every Saturday, creating artwork that’s brought back to brighten the home.

“They jumped right in,” Szucs said.

Complimentary Open Studio access isn’t the only way The Makery is supporting Stormbreak, which is a Centre County Youth Service Bureau program that helps girls ages 12-19 get their lives back on track. The Makery donates a portion of its proceeds to Stormbreak every month and is looking for ways creative communities can serve the home and its residents by creating or donating supplies, owner Amy Frank said.

Frank said she’s long been interested in the work of the YSB. When she took a tour of the Stormbreak house, located just a couple blocks away from The Makery, she said she appreciated the mission but realized that the house itself needed some work.

“It kind of got my wheels turning,” Frank said. “I thought, ‘Why are we not doing more to make the experience for these young women better?’ ”

When Frank approached YSB about the potential partnership between Stormbreak and The Makery, Szucs immediately recognized benefits.

“I thought, what a great opportunity for the kids to have a safe place to express themselves in a healthy manner,” Szucs said.

Five girls, ages 14-18, live at Stormbreak and participate in The Makery’s Open Studio Saturdays. For some of them, it’s their first exposure to painting, crafting or stitching, Szucs said.

As they have become part of The Makery community, the instructors and students have also embraced Stormbreak and the girls, in ways Frank said she hadn’t expected. People have given gift cards, and the “Designer’s Club” youth sewing class stitched a banner that’s now hung in the Stormbreak house.

The girls have their own cubbies at the studio, and Frank said instructors have started leaving little surprises for the them there — notes, small gifts.

“We’re not saying we’re changing their lives, but for them to come in and find surprises ... it’s made more of an impact than we had ever intended,” Frank said.

Frank expects the partnership to continue and grow. This holiday season, 10 percent of proceeds from The Makery’s Marketplace are given to Stormbreak.

Jessica McAllister: 814-231-4617, @JMcAllisterCDT

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