We asked the members of Inspirations Studio what the program means to them. Here are some of their thoughts:

“Inspirations is important to me because it helps me get a little money in my pocket. It gives me a sense of belonging. Inspirations is a place to make friends and it is nice to have people to talk to. I also learn new skills. I started at Inspirations in 2002 while I was living in a shelter.”

-“I had a bad drug habit and the program gave me a goal to help get over that. There is no other affordable place to do pottery. I am lost without this program. I accomplished the skills myself. Now I can say I am a potter. That is what I do.”

-“Inspirations is a piece of Paradise to me.”

-“The possibility and opportunity to create pottery in a place like Inspirations has literally turned my life around. I have suffered from depression for most of my life and was seriously contemplating committing suicide before I found Inspirations. Once I was diagnosed and was living on ODSP, I felt I no longer was part of (so called) society and I became increasingly isolated. Working at Inspirations connected me with a community. Most of all my self-esteem was on the mend and my life became worth living. Creating a beautiful dish that can be used daily and the fact that people are willing to pay me for it is intoxicating. Since I joined Inspirations, I have become dependent on having a meaningful place I can go to and not just exist but actually flourish. Having it discontinued would create a huge setback in my life”.

-“ To become this quality pottery studio takes a lot of effort from many people and it is people’s lives being affected. Even if I could not use the studio I would still want it to be here. It is valuable and a reference for me. Inspirations Studio means a lot to me and it always will. God bless The Inspirations Studio!”

-“Inspirations is the only place where I can go to create one-of-a-kind ceramics as a healthy outlet, in spite of having a fixed income whether it’s from disability or as a pensioner.  It’s the only non-addictive way that I can deal with the constant pain that I have as a result of having 11 surgeries on my knees, stomach surgery, nasal septum surgery, and other ailments.”

-“This program has been a lifesaver.  It kept me from becoming depressed, angry, or simply withdrawing from life.  There is nothing more soothing or healing than Art.  Prescription medication can help, but it’s all addictive and unhealthy in the long run.” 

-“This program is valuable to me personally because I cannot see. It gives me the opportunity touch and make something tactilely. It gives me a sense of relief that by touch I can create. Inspirations is important because I believe creation is a good stress reliever. Also it gives a sense of purpose to create and the income is an added bonus.Creation as a therapy helps release stress in a non-verbal way. It is important for trauma to; release, focus and reclaim energy into something else. We should value the power of creation as a therapy. Our work is beautiful. Making craft/art is undervalued in society. It is an important form of expression for mental health.It is helpful that there is retail here so we don’t have to scramble to look for opportunities. Also some members may not want to face the world alone. So the shop is good. Inspirations is a sanctuary to create. Our mugs and bowls tell stories.”

-“I am not employed, haven’t been for the past 15 years. Doing pottery has been my only occupation, hobby and way to earn a few bucks. It really helps. I am diabetic on ODSP and this helps buy some medical essentials.”

-“I was homeless, barely getting by and struggling with trauma. After I found Inspirations I have never been homeless since. It’s given me a purpose…it’s grounded me with a lot of things I have been through…it has given me a great opportunity to make my own money. This extra income has helped me take care of my daughter and my grandchildren. Inspirations Studio saved my life”

-“I have been through some rough times but Inspirations is changing my life big time. It is kind of like a metaphor- you’re making the clay as you’re making yourself”

-“Inspirations has helped me earn extra income. If I have any hope of coming off benefits Inspirations studio can help me. Coming here brought out something in me I did not know I had, a creativity that was dead. Inspirations studio keeps me occupied and this helps me look away from my problems and worries. When I speak to housing workers they always ask, “What are your supports”, my answer is Inspirations Studio”

-“Vulnerable women need something beyond just a bed.This place gives us a sense of community and is a safe space for women.It is hard with the social stigma of mental health. Struggling with mental illness from an early age there is always the anxiety about the dreaded question ” what do you do” Now I can say I am a potter and there is something to talk about. , I am not just someone on disability, I am not my mental illness.

This program is meaningful, having a skill gives a sense of purpose,

It is important to have something to be proud of ”I made this” It is so much more than just the money or selling The artistic part is so important. Having an artistic outlet is a way to communicate.

During my stay here I have seen universities come and study this program to see if this model could work elsewhere. That says something. I think it has value, they think it has value”