Northern Michigan in Focus: Made in Michigan Market

For adults with special needs, there aren’t typically many options when it comes to getting a job and succeeding in the workforce.

But many of them are finding a future through the Hope Network, and those careers can be creative too.

Learn about a group of talented individuals that may have made the perfect unique piece of art for your home.

Michelle Dunaway and Corey Adkins show us what they can do in this week’s Northern Michigan in Focus.

Gail is one of several artists producing impressive work for the Made in Michigan Market in Cadillac.

It’s all part of the Hope Network, an inspiring project that employs adults with special needs.

"After age 26, there’s not a whole lot of opportunities for special needs adults, so that’s a gap we aim to fill,” says Julie Herringa, Made in Michigan Market leader. “With the Made in Michigan Market we started as an artistic outlet. We have a lot of very talented people here and we wanted to give them an outlet to kind of explore and create, and serve the community that way."

Every Tuesday and Thursday, these participants spend their days sanding, drilling and painting, creating unique pieces for any home.

"We do a lot with vintage items. We don’t do traditional canvasses, we do more home decor items. We do a lot with vintage windows, doors, all of our paintings are done on antique barn wood that’s been donated to us," explains Julie.

Artist Ashley Davis says, "I’m drawing a picture for the art show that we’re doing at the end of April. It’s going to be oak trees, and a sunset, and a river."

Another part of the job is getting out and meeting new people.

"The biggest thing we get out of this, aside from obviously work skills, are community networking. That’s really something we take for granted, just getting out there and meeting new people and the certain connectedness that we get every day," says Julie.

They all have their roles when they take their work to market.

"When someone buys something, what do you do?” Julie asks Gail.

Gail answers, “I put it in a bag.”

“Then what do you do?”

“I tell them thank you and welcome,” explains Gail.

"It gives us an area to let the community know who we are too. There’s a lot of misconception about adults with disabilities, and they do beautiful, beautiful work and we are really happy to share that,” explains Julie.

It gives these artists a way to share their spirit.

"It shows who I am and it brings out the good in me," says Ashley.

You can find the Made in Michigan Market every Thursday at the farmers market in Cadillac. You can also check out their work on Facebook

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