Second Chances 

Recycled Art Show helps fund substance-abuse recovery

Passing old cabinets and chandeliers with frayed wires, store manager Patrick McDonnell gives a tour of the Second Chance Building Materials retail center. More or less a thrift-store version of Home Depot, Second Chance supplies DIY home remodelers with items like gently used kitchen sinks or screen doors at highly discounted prices. But Second Chance also has another mission: to help fund Supportive Housing and Innovative Partnerships, a substance-abuse recovery center.

"We think it's really a great metaphor ... We take items that need a second chance, just like the people, and bring them together," said Executive Director Melanie Curtis.

Gesturing to a stack of antique mahogany doors donated from the Idaho State Capitol after the recent renovation, McDonnell comes across as both knowledgeable and enthusiastic. His demeanor makes it difficult to picture him as he was less than a decade ago--locked up in prison on drug-related charges. But thanks to SHIP, McDonnell received a second chance of his own.

"When I got out, I got a job and a place to live all in the same day," said McDonnell. "It all worked out for me. They did a lot for me. I owe this place my life."

Money raised by Second Chance for SHIP--combined with funds raised at its annual Recycled Art Show--helps recovering addicts land on their feet after they make the jump to sobriety. The private nonprofit offers clean and sober housing and also provides ongoing case management, counseling, job training and life- skills coaching. On top of that, Second Chance often hires folks who come through SHIP to work in retail, re-manufacturing, construction, de-construction and green lawn-care.

"It's a daily testimonial to show that people actually can rebuild their lives, because [Second Chance] is run, from the manager on down, by people who are in recovery and who have been through the SHIP program," said Curtis.

Now in its third year, Second Chance's annual fundraiser, the Recycled Art Show, challenges local artists to create a recycled masterpiece out of materials that would otherwise be destined for the dump. This year's exhibit opens on Thursday, April 1, at the Linen Building with a reception from 5-9 p.m., including music by singer-songwriter Greg Bridges.

"One of the stipulations of the art show is that the artwork be constructed of 75 percent recycled materials, so you're going to see some really unique, interesting items that--just like in the store--are all recycled," said event producer Sarah McDaniel. "In fact, some of the artists are using items from the store and incorporating them into their artwork."

One of those artists is Kevin Butler, an Idaho State Police retiree from Kuna who repurposed one of Second Chance's mahogany doors, turning it into a room divider. Butler, who doesn't consider himself an artist but rather a "hobbyist that has enough good ideas to get in trouble" called the Idaho State Historical Society to research the door's history before he refurbished it.

"I kind of, as a hobby, dink around with antiques and stuff," said Butler. "For me, it's interesting to find out a little bit more about the project; to get some history."

Butler's antique mahogany door room-divider is only one of the many recycled projects created by this year's crop of more than 50 artists. The show includes everything from crafter Julie Richardson's fuzzy birds chirping around a knitted nest to glass artist Emmy Lou Rogers' dishwasher-safe fused-glass bowl. In addition to having almost triple the number of artists as last year's event, this year's show will also feature raffle items from sponsors like Open Table Catering, The Chocolat Bar and The Modern Hotel.

"One of the things that's neat about the show is that it's an open art show, anyone can participate--even police officers," said artist and event producer Julie Barnathan German. "You're going to find everything from artists who are high-level, selling professional artists and then people who are like, 'Hey, I'm going to take a stab at creating something.'"

For others, the Recycled Art Show's appeal lies in the objects themselves. Unlike freshly painted canvases or sculpted clay, recycled art comes with a palpable history--a narrative that shines through each new coat of paint.

"There's a story behind every piece. It's not just one-dimensional; it's multi-dimensional, historical. It comes with all kinds of great stories because of all the materials that are going into it," said McDaniel. "That's kind of like with the clients. You can see somebody, but do you really know their story?"

Misty Pratt, a Second Chance employee, had one of those hidden stories. Like McDonnell, she also spent time in prison and suffered through drug addiction. But after going through the SHIP recovery program and becoming house manager at her communal women's home, Pratt gained the confidence to pursue a new path.

"I'm going to college right now at College of Western Idaho," said Pratt. "I don't know what I want to be when I grow up yet, I have no idea. I've never thought about it until now."

McDonnell, too, has plans that wouldn't have been possible without the SHIP program and money raised by Second Chance and the Recycled Art Show. "I may go back to school and maybe try to get into some kind of counseling--alcohol counseling," he said.

Thursday, April 1, 5-9 p.m.; Friday, April 2, noon-7 p.m.; Saturday, April 3, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, April 4, 9 a.m.-noon. FREE, Linen Building, 1402 W. Grove St., 208-385-0111, shipinc.org.

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