Soul Center Fiber Arts Studio Receives Generous Donation

Opportunity Knocks

Carolyn Sklarchyk has been weaving for over thirty-five years. Her son, Sam, age 24, was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. Since then, her family has been continuously involved with the Friendship Circle. When she learned they were planning to open an art studio alongside a kosher cafe, now the Farber Soul Center, she approached Bassie Shemtov, Co-President of the organization, about teaching weaving to the participants in the art studio. Her son Sam, who began in the painting area of the studio, now works in the cafe.

“Exploration is important.”

Brother Sewing Machine

The majority of Sklarchyk’s students come in with no prior experience in the fiber arts. She gets them right into it, teaching them about different types and colors of yarn, types of looms, and different things they might be able to create. Then she puts them at the loom and has them dive in headfirst. “It’s a lot of experimenting and guidance,” says Sklarchyk.

She works with up to thirty students at a time, fifteen to twenty on an average day, each assisted by a volunteer. All her students are over the age of eighteen, ranging up to adults in their late forties. There is an equal mix of male and female participants in the studio. “It’s a blast,” Sklarchyk told us.

Great for Everybody

Brother Donates Sewing Machines

Sklarchyk had mentioned to Shemtov that there was a need for sewing machines in the fiber arts studio. Many participants were interested in sewing, and it would make creating items, such as purses and pillows, much easier. Shemtov approached Brother International Corporation, a leading manufacturer of home sewing and embroidery machines, and got them to donate six machines, including a embroidery machine and an edging machine. “They donated magnificent equipment. The artists have been using everything,” Sklarchyk gushes about the donation.

Carolyn’s daughter Emma (Morris), 21, helped to set up the machines and assisted a few artists with their first projects. One artist, Dovid, was thrilled to embroider text on his tallis bag.

Sklarchyk reflected on how the artists have gained new skills on the new equipment.  “They’re learning faster than me and they started using it the morning after it was donated!”

When asked about how the Soul Center has benefitted individuals with special needs, she had this to say, “In the creative world, we are all equal. We all have the ability to create. When they sew or weave, their (the students) self-esteem grows. It has been great for everybody.”

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