Cresteramics Chatter: Creston program benefits members and community

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Terry Nowak is a board member of the Cresteramics Society.

Terry Nowak is a board member of the Cresteramics Society.

Many of you have seen the Cresteramics store on Canyon Street. You may already know that ceramic products are available there beside the creations of local artists and artisans. Do you know that there is another site for Cresteramics in Creston? It is at 921 Railway Blvd. and is the home base for a day program for special adults and teens. Cresteramics is a not-for-profit society that receives funding through Community Living BC and it is much more. It is the place where about 50 members go to see their friends, get a hug or handshake, participate in the activities that interest them and work hard to help out their community. It is a place where they feel loved, safe, connected and cared about.

Cresteramics members, assisted by trained staff, volunteer at the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors, the Creston Valley Public Library and the College of the Rockies gardening program. Participants do jobs they like and are good at — decorating for special occasions, baking, planting and weeding, sorting and dusting. Other members work in paid positions, again assisted by trained staff, at many local businesses. The jobs include mail pick-up and delivery, window washing, storefront upkeep and gardening. Cresteramics members and staff work beside each other, and the members share the income. This is a win-win situation. Local businesses benefit from necessary jobs getting done, Cresteramics members benefit from employers giving them a chance to prove themselves and our community benefits from the improvements they make.

Health and well-being programs happen every day. Sit and Fit, yoga, cooking, journaling, Beauty and the Beast (self-care). Some of these take place at the Cresteramics building, some at the Creston and District Community Complex. Programs that promote ongoing learning include sign language, reading, computers and a newsletter.

Cresteramics members have been involved with students at Adam Robertson Elementary School for years. They are part of music, library and computer activities. Students welcome Cresteramics members and long-term friendships have developed. A very successful transitioning program exists to help youth move from Prince Charles Secondary School to the Cresteramics day program.

Theatre, crafts, music and Wii are some of the just-for-fun activities at the site on Railway Boulevard. This also where the ceramic pieces sold at the Cresteramics store are poured, fired, painted and finished. A new project called Empowering our Community started recently. Cresteramics produces positive messages for storeowners to put into bags of purchases. Watch for yours.

The Cresteramics store is our program that offers opportunities for many local artists and artisans to display their work in a bright, friendly, busy place. It also provides the opportunity for Cresteramics members to interact with the public and have a work experience placement they enjoy. Val, the store manager, is excited about the store’s 28 contributors. She proudly shares their works of art while giving a little bit of information about each artist. Ron Hurry, master goldsmith, has a permanent shop within the store and is a major contributor to its success. Carolyn Stone, an artist who displays her paintings at the store, used her artwork to create a postcard-sized poster to advertise the store. This kind of caring and sharing is what makes the Cresteramics store successful for workers, vendors and shoppers.

One of the reasons Creston is a strong community is because of the formal and informal partnerships between groups, organizations and businesses. Limited resources are shared and we all benefit. A new, supportive partnership that is making Cresteramics stronger is with the Downtowner Motor Inn, which has given us space to meet at no charge.

If this sounds like a very busy organization, it is. Every day is busy and full of opportunities. Colleen, a long-term member, is the keeper of the newsletter. She manages a big binder that helps her keep track of the activities she is part of every week. Colleen proudly shares this binder with anyone who wishes to see it. Capable, enthusiastic staff work together and with the members to determine which activity is most suitable for each person. Flexibility, patience, knowledge, humor and strength are just some of the skills I witness when I watch the staff interact with the members.

There are many advantages to Cresteramics members working in the community, both for the community and for the members. The community becomes aware of the skills and personalities of the members. This knowledge leads to acceptance. The members learn life skills that benefit them and know that they are contributing to the community they live in.

We are fortunate to have Cresteramics in our community.

Terry Nowak is a board member of the Cresteramics Society.