The Rockford Rescue Mission’s latest project shares a unique collection of items made by a special group of women. Learn about these women’s stories and find out what’s in this unique store.
“You are more than the choices that you’ve made. You are more than the sum of your past mistakes. You are more than the problems you create. You’ve been remade.”
Not only is this a line of lyrics from Tenth Avenue North, a Christian band, but it’s also the motto of Rockford Remade, 611 W. State St., just east of the Mission’s Restoration Café. Remade, which opened in September, sells vintage goods, unique pieces of art, furniture and home décor.
The items are created by women who are part of the Life Recovery Program at Rockford Rescue Mission, 715 W. State St., where local women in need are fed daily and provided with a crisis shelter.
The women in the Life Recovery Program suffer with addiction, abuse or other hardship. With the help of artists and volunteers, they work together to remake donated goods into repurposed items for the store.
“These women have been through very difficult things and they come here broken and battered, and God is remaking them,” says Sherry Pitney, executive director of Rockford Rescue Mission. “This art is just another spoke on that wheel of recovery that we provide.”
As part of the Mission’s Christ-centered, residential life recovery program, women are offered a free 9- to 12-month experience that not only provides addiction treatment, but also spiritual help, education, vocational training and health and dental care.
“It allows people to explore where their addiction and their pain comes from,” says Teresa Reeverts, director of the Remade program and support services at the Mission. “We believe all addiction is the result of unmet needs or unsolved pain and it takes time for people to process things. Typically, addicts don’t want to face any pain, that’s why they pick up and use, so they have to learn how to deal with pain in other ways.”
Before the store opened, the women participated in an art therapy class at the Mission, which sparked their interest in art. At the same time, Remade volunteers also repurposed donated items at the mission’s thrift store.
“We saw how excited the women got the more they participated in art. Their self-esteem increases when they create something,” says Mary DeHaan, Remade Coordinator. “We thought, ‘Why can’t we teach these women how to repurpose items so they can use these things in their own homes and possibly start their own businesses?’ That’s where everything started.”
Proceeds from Remade go back to Rockford Rescue Mission.
“There’s more than meets the eye here because everything is handmade,” DeHaan says. “People donate items they don’t want, and these ladies fix them up, repaint them, repurpose them and make them into something new.”
The Mission exists and functions solely on donations from thousands of individuals and hundreds of churches and businesses. Some of the items are rough and they have to be repaired before they can be refurbished.
The women work with 12 volunteer artists and painters to repurpose goods each Tuesday and Thursday. Once the items are updated, they’re sent to Rockford Remade.
Although the program currently is made up of all women, Pitney says she’d love to get the men of the life recovery program involved.
“We’d love to expand down the line and include a men’s program because of how beneficial it is,” she says.
Reeverts says Remade helps to revitalize the downtown area and brings exposure to the Mission while bringing in revenue.
“Opening weekend at Remade was great, but the best is yet to come,” she adds.