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updated: 10/9/2015 9:27 AM

Re:new $19,500 shy of fundraising goal to renovate new Glen Ellyn store

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  • Kamila Gaydarova, an Ahiska Turkish refugee from Russia, is one of the artisans moving to the new Re:new shop on Main Street in Glen Ellyn.

      Kamila Gaydarova, an Ahiska Turkish refugee from Russia, is one of the artisans moving to the new Re:new shop on Main Street in Glen Ellyn.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Handcrafted bags made by refugee women are sold in the Re:new shop, which is relocating to a former bakery in downtown Glen Ellyn.

      Handcrafted bags made by refugee women are sold in the Re:new shop, which is relocating to a former bakery in downtown Glen Ellyn.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer, September 2014

 
 

Unless you're guided by a compass or a strong sense of direction, Re:new can be easy to miss.

It shares a building -- one half has a Glen Ellyn address, the other half, a Wheaton address -- with other nonprofit groups, set back far from the road.

That all makes Executive Director Susan Tripi DeLano eager to move into a more prominent store in the heart of downtown Glen Ellyn.

The group hires refugee women to make handbags and accessories from donated fabrics. Many are moms who can work flexible hours, learn English and begin to build a new life in the suburbs after fleeing war and religious persecution.

So far, Re:new has raised about $30,500 from an online fundraiser and other donors to renovate the former Flour Barrel Bakery, said Beth Johnson, the development director. That's $19,500 shy of its $50,000 goal, so the group has extended the CrowdRise campaign, originally expected to end late last month, through Oct. 14.

"The support from the community has been very generous and very overwhelming," Tripi DeLano said.

She's confident they'll meet their target. The money also will help pay for costs associated with the transition into a new sewing studio and store, where Tripi De Lano hopes to open some eyes to the women's stories.

Many are starting over without the support of family who still live in the places they fled.

"There are significant social needs for the ladies, who are fully disconnected physically and emotionally from family and still carry that heavy burden of knowing that they still have family that are in unsafe circumstances," she said.

But Re:new offers a place to find solidarity and sharpen their job skills, Tripi De Lano said.

"We really exist for the refugee women and to provide a space for them to not only find meaningful employment, but community," Tripi De Lano said.

The remodel of the former bakery, closed since the spring in a 1920s-era building, already has started, with new lighting installed this week and new flooring arriving next week. A Glen Ellyn design firm is donating its services for the makeover.

"Amy Storm and Designstorms has put together a beautiful and unique space for the retail area," Tripi De Lano said. "I'm excited to see how it all comes together."

In the current Re:new, divided up into rooms and offices, shoppers tend to stick to the retail floor. In the new space, they'll be invited to tour the studio and meet the artisans, whose pictures are currently displayed on the front window at 483 N. Main St.

Tripi DeLano expects to open on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

"It's going to look completely different," she said. "The entire space will be open to the community."

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