Q&A Clients and Staff Benefit from Gift Boutique
Alex, a resident of Cabin Mountain Living Center, has challenges that preclude her from getting and keeping a job in a public work environment. However, she makes beautiful jewelry. Matthew also faces daily challenges that make getting and keeping a job imposible for him, but he has learned how to make delicious hot chocolate bombs. “We realized a couple years ago that many of our clients had some incredible skills in the area of arts and crafts,” said Kelly Pennington, Director of Cabin Mountain, “and we thought folks would purchase these items if we could find a way to make them available.” From that idea, Scarlet Gray Gift Boutique was created.
Scarlet Gray is located in Thomas, WV, near Cabin Mountain and the other Q&A programs that is well known as a small mountain town turned vibrant by local artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs. Scarlet Gray is proud to be a successful business in this environment, featuring products made by the clients of Cabin Mountain, Applewood Transitions for Young Women, and Journey Transitions for Young Men. Some of the Q&A staff members are also contributing handmade products to the inventory, which includes jewelry, leather goods, pottery, goats milk soap, hot chocolate bombs, crocheted hats, and purses, tie-dyed shirts, homemade BBQ sauce (original recipe by a Journey client) and other specialty items.
The store features wood products made by the clients at Cabin Mountain and Journey under the guidance of Scooter Goldman, “Mr. Scooter” to everyone. The items produced in the wood shop range from cheese boards to dining room tables. Recently, they made shelves that are over three feet tall and spell out the word Love. The clients working in the wood shop learn every aspect of this trade, beginning with correct measuring and ending with a beautiful, finished product. The items often feature locally harvested and milled hardwoods such as maple and cherry, as well as found or reclaimed wood like wormy chestnut.
Clients of all three Q&A programs are permitted to apply for jobs in the boutique, which is managed by local artist and entrepreneur Diana Vera. Diana also provides art lessons and experiences for the Q&A clients during the summer months. “Not only does she do a wonderful job managing the store, but she is also very good with the clients when they are working there,” said Marci Jones, Student Services Coordinator and Lead Life Coach. “She helps them practice interacting with customers, and she helps them memorize descriptions of each product,” continued Jones, “When customers enter the store, the clients greet them appropriately, explain the purpose of the store, and help them enjoy the items by sharing personal stories about the people who create the products.” Jones also works at the store one day per week, helping clients internalize many of the life skills learned in sessions with her.
Scarlet Gray is named after two horses (Miss Scarlet and Old Gray) that are part of the Q&A nonprofit equine program, Saddles & Smiles. The store hosts a steady stream of patrons each Thursday through Sunday. To follow the boutique on FaceBook, find and like @ScarletGraywv.
About Q&A Family of Programs
Q&A Family of Programs works with young adults ages 18 and up, providing opportunities for each of them to develop independent, functional, and happy lives with a high level of quality. Our clients have struggled to reach independence for a variety of reasons such as the inability to develop and/or implement the life skills needed to be successful, or struggling to obtain consistent employment. Our goal is to help these individuals find meaning and an authentic purpose for their lives and a practical path to achieve their goals.