Making an Impact With Craft Emergency Relief Fund
No question, 2017 was a challenging, even devastating, year for makers and gift retailers in some parts of the U.S. impacted by hurricanes, fires and other natural disasters, but one organization, and one retailer in particular, have risen to meet those challenges by helping others in need.
The Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+) was started in 1985 by by artists for artists in the craft community as a grassroots mutual aid effort in 1985 and has since emerged as the leading nonprofit organization that uniquely focuses on safeguarding artists’ livelihoods nationwide. CERF+ serves artists who work in craft disciplines by providing a safety net to support strong and sustainable careers.
The group’s core services are education programs, advocacy, network building and emergency relief. CERF+ is readiness, relief + resilience for studio artists, ensuring that they are as protected as the work they create.
For the past 11 years, Kim Megginson, owner of Zig Zag Gallery in Centerville, OH (near Dayton) has done her best to support CERF+ during American Craft Week each fall.
The store holds an event titled “Soup For CERf+”. Potters who do business with Megginson make and donate a variety of bowls for the event, which are sold to customers for between $10 and $20.
Customers then enjoy a home-made soup of their choice, beverage, roll and dessert with 100% of the proceeds from the fundraiser going to CERF+; and the best part is, they get to keep the bowls.
“I met Corniella Carey (executive director at CERF+) years ago, before I owned the store, at a wholesale show,” Megginson recalls. “I was just so impressed with the work they do. They are the only group of their type that I am aware. They are focused on helping people that we support in our store through the goods we sell. They just touched my heart.
“We have artists who have been beneficiaries of their work, and we came to know about how important the assistance was,” she added.
“We set up tables outside the store. It is an incredibly fun evening. Soups donated by local restaurants, and we have friends who as if they can ‘please make soup for you next year'” Megginson explained, sharing that the event keeps growing.Meals are served Thursday and Friday and Saturday afternoon, and include a pottery demo the last day. “A local pottery makes wheel-thrown soup bowls during the demo that will then be used for next year’s event,” she said.
About 200 people attend each year now, Megginson said.
“We make it very public, and we have information about CERF+,” she said, adding it was especially well-attended this past fall. “We had more people this year really asking very specific questions about CERF+. It connected in people that they were really making a contribution that is very important … and that was really exciting to see.”