In early 1999 I was looking for something “fun” to do, and maybe to earn a little extra money. So when my sister told me The Mud Room, a cute little studio in Ada, was looking for part-time help I jumped on the opportunity. Little did I know what that opportunity would turn out to be!
On July 1, 1999, I became the owner of The Mud Room and quit my full-time job. After 2 moves and nearly 21 years a lot has changed in the studio, but the important things have not. Our core activity is still paint-your-own pottery, though we offer other arts and crafts, too. We strive to make it simple for anyone to be creative. Most of our customers create with their friends and families. It makes our hearts happy when we can make an impact on our community, even in a small way.
Rachel helping a Center member with sign painting!
About 6 years ago one of our Mud Room customers, Sharon, contacted me to set up a meeting for a potential partnership. It was there that I learned about a new nonprofit that Amanda Barbour was trying to open (The Children’s Healing Center), and about its mission and the families it would serve. I had to think about the logistics – but not about whether I wanted to be involved. Being a small, local business myself I was excited to support a new organization. Also, knowing how important art and creativity is to health and happiness I was humbled to be able to offer it to families who have a harder time finding those outlets outside of their homes.
“I had to think about the logistics – but not about whether I wanted to be involved.”
What started as a few random tile painting sessions at the studio, with vigorous cleaning and sanitization before each event, has now turned into monthly programs at the Center We rotate between pottery painting, wood sign painting, and sometimes even glass fusing! I am always happy to attend and instruct some of these events myself, and other times I will send someone from my team so they can be involved, too. Of course, the volunteers at Children’s Healing Center are so amazing that there are many programs they run on their own now!
When I do get to visit on-site the staff, volunteers and families are so welcoming. Everyone is so kind and gracious, and I immediately feel at home. When I see familiar faces, I’m reminded that we’re providing something the families truly value and look forward to.
Painting Mud Room Pottery!
As I write this it is early June of 2020. Just a few months ago the coronavirus hit the world and our state, prompting business shutdowns. One of my first thoughts was of Children’s Healing Center and the families it serves. Will the kids have somewhere to go? Is this extra scary for the parents? Is the fear and uncertainty everyone is feeling something these families live with every day? Intellectually I always understood what they dealt with, but I think the experiences of the past few months raised my empathy to another level.
”Intellectually I always understood what they dealt with, but I think the experiences of the past few months raised my empathy to another level.”
There are countless studies highlighting the importance of art and creativity. Artistic activities develop problem-solving skills, self-confidence, innovation and are important for positive mental health. I feel blessed to be able to offer creative activities to CHC families and support the Center’s mission. And I cannot wait to create with you all again!