TRAVERSE CITY — Josh Crawford can’t wait to see the look on his mom’s face when she opens the Mother’s Day card he plans to give her on Sunday.
He picks a special card every year, but this time he had a hand in making it.
“It is beautiful and unique, plus I have a special gift for her,” said Crawford, 32, who works at Paperworks Studio where his card of choice was created using recycled fibers.
Paperworks, a nonprofit program of Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan, produces one-of-a-kind cards handmade by artists who have special needs and disadvantages. The Mother’s Day cards they are offering this season are the result of a collaboration between Paperworks, Special Olympics Michigan and the visual information technology program at the TBA-ISD Career Tech Center.
“Many of our workers, like Josh, are Special Olympic athletes. When they come in here with their gold medals hanging around their necks, it is an exciting thing,” said Brian Lewis, director of sales and business development for Paperworks.
That’s why Lewis jumped at the chance when he was approached about collaborating to produce a card as a fundraiser for both organizations.
“It seems like a natural fit, for us to be working together,” said John Casteel, Special Olympics area director for the local five-county region.
“Most people don’t realize that the 240 athletes in our area participate in 11 sports throughout the year. It is not just a twice-a-year event and it takes a lot of support,” he said.
Casteel also approached CTC teacher Julie Orr, whose students have done graphic design work for Special Olympics in the past, to see if they would design a card with moms in mind.
“We brainstormed ideas about what made us think of mothers; my mom enjoys butterflies” said senior Rachael McDaniel, who also attends Traverse City West Senior High.
Mandy Collins, a senior from Kalkaska, said her cutout of a mother and child was designed for someone who didn’t want something “too flowery, too girly”. Both girls’ designs were chosen to be put into production, along with two created by the volunteer design team at Paperworks.
“They are really beautiful,” said Jennifer Neve, who worked on putting inserts into the cards at Paperworks.
Neve, 33, has participated in Special Olympics for 11 years. She says she loves playing Bocce for Special Olympics and loves everything about working at Paperworks.
“I love the whole thing,” she said.
Each of the four styles are available for $5.50 at local retailers, including Oleson’s stores in Traverse City, Petoskey and Charlevoix; Tom’s East Bay, West Bay, Acme and 14th St.; Horizon Books; Edson Farms; Ace Hardware on Front St. and Green Island. They are also available at www.paperworksstudio.com. Cards are also available through Special Olympics Michigan, by calling John Casteel at 223-4108.
Lewis said next year he hopes to include the Mother’s Day cards in the Paperworks Studio displays at Whole Food Stores.
“They looked at the cards and were very excited about them” said Lewis, who hopes the retailer will expand the presence of their artisan cards in locations throughout the Midwest and northwest.