The Creative Reuse Marketplace (CRM) store, opening June 2 in downtown Springfield, is not your typical store. If you're an artist, teacher, scrapbooker, hobbyist, creative individual or enjoy making things with your kids or grandkids, this place is for you. Yarn, fabric, colorful plastic pieces, metal parts, ribbon, jewelry, cards, bottle caps, leftover widgets and a myriad of materials will be for sale at a reasonable price. Many of the items collected over the last six months may have otherwise been thrown away. "One person's junk is another person's treasure," says Adena Rivas, founder of CRM.
Not the creative type? The store will be a source of inspiration. Examples of artwork made from repurposed materials will be on display. A good time to visit is during the Old Capitol Farmers Market. The store is just steps away at 122 S. Fourth Street, between Adams and Washington streets.
This is far more than a store. It is an enterprise designed to enhance the community and inspire creative reuse through environmental stewardship, education and job training. Long-term goals are to build a sustainable organization and a creative space that provides steady employment to underserved women, inspires creativity and diverts substantial materials from the local landfill to be reused and repurposed.
Rivas, an artist as well as the City of Springfield's waste and recycling program coordinator, is the driving force behind this initiative. She was inspired by places such as the Idea Store in Champaign and has assembled a group of dedicated partners to make this dream a reality.
Betsy Dollar, executive director of the Springfield Art Association, was an enthusiastic early supporter. "The more we can encourage everyone to creatively reuse things instead of throwing them away, the better off we all are," says Dollar. "It's terrific when people are using their imaginations and motor skills while being environmentally responsible." Sustainable Springfield, Inc. is another committed partner.
Workforce development is an integral objective. Women from Inner City Mission are providing the workforce for CRM. Inner City Mission provides shelter, education and counseling services to homeless children, their parents and single women. Through workforce training, women will learn social and behavioral skills, plus sales, marketing and business.
With the Springfield Art Association, Inner City Mission and Third Presbyterian Church all located in Enos Park, the program was launched under the umbrella of the Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association (EPNIA). The Women for Women giving circle of the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln awarded EPNIA $52,500 in 2020 through the Women's Fund. The Women's Fund provides financial support to organizations that address pressing needs facing women, and special consideration is given to collaborative programs. With so many diverse partners, CRM was a perfect fit.
Recently, the Women's Fund awarded an additional $30,000 for year two. "Women for Women intentionally focused on multi-year grant funding to help programs ensure long-term success through sustainability," said Ann Burton, grants committee chair. "Creative Reuse Marketplace adjusted and evolved well during a very challenging year. We're excited to see how the program continues to serve and improve the lives of at-risk women through job training and education as well as inspire environmental stewardship and a creative space for learning."
Michelle Popp is a former Inner City Mission resident who is the first workforce development training program participant and now serves as the dropoff coordinator. Popp, age 36, was in an abusive relationship and is a recovering alcoholic. "This job has given me hope," says Popp. She is working two jobs, now has her own place to live and is able to spend time with her 2-year-old daughter. She says she has a reason to stay sober and has discovered she can depend on herself. She calls CRM a sisterhood.
Jen Hudson, age 44, is also a recovering alcoholic who was in an abusive relationship and is now working to turn her life around. She has four children, and her family is in Kansas City. Through this workforce training opportunity, she hopes to be a better parent.
Both Popp and Hudson describe Rivas as empowering. "Miss Adena is the best boss ever," says Hudson. Popp and Hudson take pride in their work and enjoy seeing the fruits of their labor as they paint and decorate display racks and ready the store for its opening. "Every day is an adventure," says Hudson.
Rivas says start-up funding from the Women's Fund has been vital. The goal is to be a self-sustaining, independent nonprofit organization in three years. Her enthusiasm is palpable.
"When you change one woman's life, you change her family's life and everything associated with her," said Rivas. "It helps uplift the surrounding community."
Creative Reuse Marketplace Grand Opening – June 2
9:30 a.m. Ribbon cutting
10 a.m. Store opens
122 S. Fourth Street, Springfield
Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturdays 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Beginning June 2, CRM will again accept donations of art supplies, kitchen items, home décor, craft items, office supplies and much more. For a complete list of acceptable materials and more information go to www.creativereusemarketplace.org.
Karen Ackerman Witter is an avid recycler and an enthusiastic supporter of the Creative Reuse Marketplace. She chairs the Community Foundation's Women for Women Steering Committee.