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Transforming Scraps into Opportunities: The Inspiring Journey of Scraps & Skeins


Scraps & Skeins, a social enterprise by Strawberry Fields, is where environmental responsibility meets empowering employment. This month, we celebrate nine years of this award-winning green business. Scraps & Skeins provides job opportunities to individuals facing serious and persistent mental health challenges, providing the powerful benefits of employment as part of a recovery journey. 


Since its establishment, Strawberry Fields has been at the forefront of fostering an inclusive society for individuals with intellectual disabilities. This innovative spirit remains the cornerstone of our mission, steering our efforts to adapt and respond to the changing needs of those we serve. A focus area of our commitment is employment. In 2020, a concerning 57% of individuals with serious mental health conditions faced unemployment, underscoring the importance of our work in this field. 


The origins of Scraps & Skeins can be traced back to Ellen Campbell, a current board member and long-time volunteer. After visiting a quaint second-hand craft supply store in Ithaca, Ellen envisioned a similar shop employing individuals with various disabilities. The board and leadership team embraced this novel idea. Starting with local craft sales, Ellen and her volunteers quickly discovered strong community support for such an endeavor. 


"What began as a small showroom, open just one day a week, has blossomed into a beautiful, full-fledged store and a 24/7 online presence, shipping goods nationwide," shares Ellen Campbell. "Most importantly, we've created meaningful employment opportunities for adults with mental health and intellectual challenges, championing the message that 'Reuse is Beautiful.'" 


Over the past nine years, Scraps & Skeins has made significant strides. The shop has prevented over 50 tons of material from ending in landfills, won green awards, and built a thriving store and crafting community. Today, it employs six individuals in supported roles and a dedicated team of 15 volunteers.  


"I just have to extend our heartfelt thanks to all the volunteers who have been a key part of Scraps & Skein's success and longevity. Their tireless dedication, creativity, and passion are the unsung heroes of this journey, helping us transform countless scraps into opportunities and lives into stories of success," shares Cindy Pasquinelli, CEO of Strawberry Fields.  


The camaraderie among the entire Scraps & Skeins team is palpable, with exciting updates about online sales, new donations, or the latest life updates shared through lively text chains involving volunteers and employees. This sense of community extends beyond the store walls.  


"There's got to be a better word for how these people make me feel when I'm here. I don't have a word for it. It's just wonderful here. It's beautiful here. The staff and volunteers will help me out with everything. And I never had any of that before ever," shares Kim, a current employee connected to Scraps & Skeins through her Strawberry Fields case manager. Read Kim's Story Here.


Visit the shop on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and every 3rd Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2. pm. Shop online at any time at https://scrapsskeins.shopsettings.com.   


Interested in volunteering? Contact Dottie Ewing, manager of Scraps & Skeins, at dewing@sfionline.org to learn more.  


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Whether shopping for unique craft supplies, volunteering your time, or simply spreading the word, your support helps us continue our mission of providing purposeful employment and building a stronger, more inclusive community. 



 

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