Designer Inspired to Teach At-Risk Teens How to Sew

For: Laila Design Studio
Walla Walla, WA
Organizer: Laurie Haluska
Designer Inspired to Teach At-Risk Teens How to Sew (Laila Design Studio)
$8,373
of $12,500 goal.
Raised by 41 donors
66% Complete
This fundraiser is closed. Thank you for your support!

The Story

“Tragedy” is a simple word; easy enough to read, to spell, to say… but this simple word packs a powerful punch.  For many people, the word “tragedy” is much more than black letters on white paper.  It’s a heavy fog – a haunting reality.  It’s the bedrock of their existence; it’s the crucible that shaped them into the individuals they are.  Tragedy can destroy a person’s life with steady erosion over time or with a flash flood.  If tragedy defined their life from their formative years, that person may never be who they could have been.  Their best chance of surviving [and thriving] is dependent on the resiliency factors present in their life.

Resilience is not something you either have or you don’t – it’s something you create.  It’s not the ability to simply “bounce back”; it’s the ability to grow and thrive even after life-altering tragedy.  It’s about relationship-building, not unyielding independence.  Skills are important, as is the stable, consistent presence of a caring adult.  So how can a person who experienced ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) build resilience, and how do they help others create resilience?

Laurie Haluska grew up in an abusive household.  Outside observers remained unaware; while she and her siblings were well-behaved, all were deeply affected.  Each tried to find healing in various ways; some of the siblings turned to therapy and spiritual paths.  When Laurie’s brother Steve died 18 years ago, all the siblings worried about their brother John – knowing the two boys had been close.  No matter what they did in the next 13 years, John seemed unreachable.  He died from suicide 5 years ago this August.  Laurie was heartbroken and felt so helpless; from that day forward, she desired to make a difference in the lives of others who’d experienced trauma.  That desire grew steadily.

As she grew up, Laurie kept herself grounded with sewing.  “It was my safe place, my outlet,” she recalls.  Laurie has worked in professional costume design and construction for 40 years, and in light of what happened to her brothers, her passion to create a safe haven for others with ACEs has grown.  So, she decided to put those two passions together:  she chose to offer kids an option with which to create an outlet of their own.  She would create a safe place in which she would teach them how to sew.

Laurie’s goal was to create a classroom where she could teach sewing to students without charge.  In order to cover rent and overhead costs, she opened a tuxedo rental and bridal boutique – Laila Design Studio – with a professional costume shop / classroom in the back.  A few months after opening, she learned her shop was only 3 blocks away from Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, a high school known for implementing methods to give at-risk teens the tools to build resiliency.  [Recently, Jamie Redford made a documentary about Lincoln High School called “Paper Tigers,” illustrating these methods.]

Laurie is now an official part of Lincoln’s after-school program, holding a sewing class in her shop.  The first class, last year, recreated Star Wars costumes to wear on their float in Walla Walla’s Christmas parade.  This was a project close to Laurie’s heart, since she worked on the costume crew for Return of the Jedi.It was a great success!  The students had a wonderful time and their float won “Best in Show”.  This year (2016-2017 school year), classes have just begun.  We have two projects:  a float for the Christmas parade and their spring play.

Laila Design Studio is still a young business and is not yet bringing enough sales in to cover the overhead costs of the classes.  So, any donations will be used to cover the cost of fabric and supplies as well as contributing to the overhead costs, including the following:  rent, utilities, and payment of part-time employees who assist with classes and keep everything running smoothly.  In order to cover both class projects [fabric and supplies], our goal is to raise $3500.  In order to cover overhead costs for classes [rent, utilities, part-time employees], we need $3000/month.  Any contribution you are able to make is greatly appreciated; thank you for your support.  If you think this is a great project and have no funds you are able to contribute at this time, please support us by offering prayers for each kid to find their own resilience.

To learn more about Laurie's credentials, please visit her website:
www.haluskadesign.com                 or the bridal boutique website: www.lailadesignstudio.com

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on November 3, 2015

Posted on November 3, 2015

ok, well, I just added a bunch of photos. Thing is, with this website, there isn't any way to add caption sunder the photos so I can't identify them for you. So.... the photos of young girl students are from last fall 2014 and spring 2015. The one high school girl in her fleece hat is from last May 2015, and the rest with the mostly boys and a few girls are the class we are teaching right now. The teacher we have are me, Eliza (my assistant) and three volunteer women who come help answer the questions the kids have so we can keep them moving along. I cant thank you enough Nancy! Peggy! and Linda!!!!

Posted on November 3, 2015

Posted on November 3, 2015

And so we are asking for a bit more donations, to purchase the rest of the raw materials me weed so the kids can complete their mission. As i said in the previous post, we only need about $1500-2000 more. Even the smaller donations, like $20-30-40 or $50 can help immensely as it all adds up. If you feel inspired, please donate. If you feel this isn't the time for you to do that, please offer prayers, positive support, kind words. All kinds of support is greatly appreciated! financial is just one way. My heart to yours! Peace and blessings.

Posted on November 3, 2015

Posted on November 3, 2015

This is now November 2nd. We have three weeks til Thanksgiving and then one week after to finish preparing for the parade. We have a lot of things covered and under way but still need more finds to purchase the rest of what the kids need. For instance, the best price we can find anywhere on line for Storm trooper helmets is $75 each..plus shipping.. and that's wholesale from a costume supplier! We have 6 storm troopers. I figure with shipping, it's going to be at least $500 for the helmets. The rest of their costumes, we can make due with spandex and white vinyl but the helmets need to look cool! We also need more fabrics and a few light sabers. I'm figuring we need about $1500-2000 to finish things out the way we want to so they really look cool! We will have a total of about 15-20 kids outfitted for the exciting night. They will be competing against other floats fro various "best of" awards. and we want them to win! When they come to class, they are excited and totally engaged in creating their costumes. It so important to my deepest hear that this be a rich and rewarding experience for them. That they can experience the joy, self worth and fulfillment that can come from being creative. Last summer, a beloved friend of mine who is studying to be a therapist told me that she is being taught that being creative can effect a person is such a way that by them watching the raw materials take shape into something useful or beautiful, and that their efforts, skills and creative energy effected that change, helps a person feel empowered; it helps them see that they CAN effect change in the world and in their own lives. Being creative, from my perspective is one of the deepest ways we heal and connect with the Divine.

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