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Where Miracles, and Smiles, Flourish

Updated: Feb 1

Show your support to Creations, Sandpoint’s artistic hub for all ages


 


Photo courtesy of Creations

 

By Stacey Wynne Mueller


Creations was founded in 2010 through the desire of a mom’s heart to experience connection and community while raising a toddler. The founder of Creations, Shery Meekings, launched the nonprofit, fueled by a family crisis of taking care of her sick husband with her 2-year-old daughter in tow.


"I needed someone to tell me it’s going to be okay. I needed community … community to help me ride through the life storm I was experiencing, except, I had nowhere to go with my little one in tow," Shery reflects.


During her family challenge, Shery looked forward to a monthly program that met at a local church called MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). They offered fun activities for children while moms enjoyed a luncheon seminar together. "This program was such a gift to me,” she smiles. “My daughter loved interacting with other children, and I loved having adult conversations with other moms."


Around the same time, Shery was introduced to the owner of the Cedar Street Bridge, who had recognized her artistic talent and asked her to help breathe new life into the building after Coldwater Creek exited. Shery created an art gallery on the second floor offering professional consigned ark work.


Coincidently, around that same time, a mom of a 37-year-old with special needs approached Shery and asked her to host an art class for her son and 10 other classmates from Panhandle Special Needs Institute.


"I agreed and hosted a class for them at the Cedar Street Bridge. To my surprise, they loved it! I figured if that class was successful, I should try a toddler class for the moms and preschoolers, so the following week I shared the idea at a MOPS meeting, and 32 moms and their kiddos showed up. They all breathed so much joy and laughter in the Cedar Street Bridge, it was changed forever, and so was I! Week after week, the moms kept coming, as well as the special needs guys.”


It wasn’t long that Shery closed the art gallery and opened Creations on the lower level in 2010. “I drew a photograph of the blueprint God had given me for Creations: an indoor space for moms to bring their kids, with a sailboat in the midst of a toddler's play area, an art space, and a treehouse somewhere in the midst of it all,” Shery vividly remembers. A few months later, “Captain Dan” happened to see the drawing, called Shery, and told her he would be delivering a boat for the kids.


The next miracle came from Carpet One, who donated a thick squishy carpet under the boat. The miracles just kept coming, and Creations ended up moving to the back of the Cedar Street Bridge building and expanding to create an area to offer drop-in art, and a small shop with new and donated goods to pay for rent. This was just the beginning of Creations becoming a gathering hub for families and kids.


Six years into launching Creations, it already had more than 30,000 people visiting it each year. This increase came along with the addition of becoming a 501c3, partnering with Experience Works (a job skill program) to host Creations’ art workshops, as well as adding supportive board members and a grant writer.


In 2020, an amazing treehouse was added to their discovery play area, along with an art instructor and a variety of art workshops for all ages and stages in life. To answer the call to the influx of now over 40,000 people visiting, Creations enlarged its discovery play area in the back of the Cedar Street Bridge and a fully stocked art studio full of supplies for anyone interested in taking a dive into their creative side. In addition, Creations developed a free children’s lending library with story-time seating, a family game area that includes foosball, and a multi-use gathering space that makes way for a variety of meetings and parties.


There are many STEM workshops offered each month and are available for all ages. (Upcoming workshops can be found on Creations’ Facebook page, Facebook.com/creationsforsandpointinc.)


Creations continues to attract a greater number of visitors, which includes locals, children, moms, dads, teens, corporate groups, field trips, grief groups, recovery groups, special needs, court appointed, community service, church groups, book clubs, science clubs, veteran groups, retirement groups, family reunions, parties, and downtown events that use Creations to gather and connect. You name the gathering; Creations has probably provided the need somehow in their welcoming space! Though Creations has already begun expanding into the community using their art teachers and workshops to support local schools, foster care programs, and senior and teen centers, their next big step will be to execute their plan to build a science museum that provides hands-on learning through the help of partnering with local businesses and nonprofits. In addition, they hope to inspire other small towns to join the community gathering revolution of providing an indoor safe space for all to learn, play and create.


After 14 years, this community hub has generated many connections that are bridging a way for Creations to help beyond the Cedar Street Bridge site. Creations is now using its art skills, supplies and workshops to go to businesses, nonprofits and schools in the community to help fill their need as well.


All visitors and locals can come to Creations anytime and enjoy the Drop-in Art Studio Stem Discovery Play—stocked full of every kind of crafting tool to paint and create art—between 10am to 6pm, seven days a week. The Discovery Play center is the perfect place to learn and an outlet for the young ones to expend their energy. Creations provides space for other organizations to teach youth STEM workshops, including Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeepers, Suzuki Strings Music, 4-H, and more!


For those interested in signing up for one of Creations’ wonderful workshops, like felting, you can do so at CreationsforSandpoint.org. These educational art classes are for both adults and youth through Creations’ Creative Hands Expand the Mind program.There are not many places in Sandpoint you can bring your kids to during the seven months of rainy and winter weather for educational fun. Creations answers the call to bring smiles and adventure back to a dreary day; a place for people to connect and bond, and where hearts open up.


2022 was the first year since its inception that Creations was presented with a financial challenge, which has led them to ask for the community’s help. Due to the increase in expenditures, they are soliciting donations from all those who have come to know, use and love Creations to help offset the costs, so Creations can continue serving at the bridge downtown.They are currently seeking 100 to 150 monthly donors (family members) at $10 to $25 per month to offset these increased expenditures. They’ve already secured 31 new family members and are hopeful others will want to join in the effort and contribute to equip Creations through its growth. Donations can be made through their website, CreationsforSandpoint.org.


Let’s come together and make another miracle happen so Creations can continue the wonderful opportunities and experiences it’s provided to the community for years to come—and keep the community smiling. 


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