Association of Artisans to Cane Restores Chairs for Old Sturbridge Village

The antique chairs at Old Sturbridge Village get a lot of use! A local chair caning business in New Haven is helping to re-seat some of the many Hitchcock chairs at the Village. Caners Rhonda Voos and Josh Hawkins recently attended the annual gathering of The SeatWeavers Guild (TSWG) at Sturbridge Village, where 53 members of the Guild came from around the country for a weekend of workshops and sharing of techniques. "It was an amazing opportunity to meet other caners who specialize in the niche business we are in", commented Rhonda Voos, “I learned so much and came away energized to try out some new methods of weaving."  Voos manages The Association of Artisans to Cane, a social enterprise of Marrakech, Inc.  The AAC employs adults with disabilities who are trained in the arts of chair caning, rush, shaker tape and other seat weaving.  Voos and Hawkins offered to re-rush the two Hitchcock chairs as a way of giving back to the Village. The Association of Artisans to Cane will be returning the chairs to Old Sturbridge Village when they are finished rushing the seats.

The Association of Artisans to Cane is one of the few chair caning/repair studios in the state, and they have been reweaving chair seats since 1988.  They are located at 597 East Street in New Haven. The studio offers demonstrations and educational workshops, and also has finished chairs that have been donated and repaired and are available for sale. 

For more information on the studio, check out Artisans to Cane , go to Facebook and “like” Association of Artisans to Cane, or contact Rhonda Voos at 203-776-6310 or by email at rvoos@marrakechinc.org.


Bobby Peterson Named Newest Member of the Board of Directors!

We would like to congratulate Bobby Peterson on becoming the newest member of Marrakech's Board of Directors! We sat down with Bobby and talked to him about how he felt about this new and exciting responsibility, and here is what we learned!

Congratulations on being elected to the Marrakech Board of Directors! How do you feel about this opportunity?
I am very excited to be a part of the Marrakech Board!

How important is it for an agency like Marrakech to have a consumer of services on its Board of Directors?

I feel that it is very important to have a consumer like me on the Board of Directors because I can let them know what we want and need.

Are there any new ideas you plan on bringing to the Board as its newest member?
I plan to give the input of the consumers and to suggest more dances and cook-outs.

What concerns do you think should be addressed by the Board in the next year?
I think that the Board should address more trips for the upcoming year.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?
I hope to continue to be independent and to be able to remain on the Board.

As an advocate, what words of encouragement do you have for your peers to get involved?
My advice to others would be to never give up on your dreams!

We would like to thank Bobby for taking the time to talk with us and for taking on the responsibility of sitting on the Board of Directors! 


Marrakech is the "Living Example of Blue Space"

On May 29, 2014, Marrakech representatives were invited to attend a "Creating Blue Space" Training at the NEAT Marketplace in Hartford.  We were one of only 8 private agencies invited to attend this occasion, alongside our colleagues at the Department of Developmental Services.  Bobby Peterson, Heather LaTorra, Lisa Mierek, and Corinne Jackson represented Marrakech.

It is a rare occasion that we are able to attend a full day of training with our colleagues, where we are not discussing rules, regulations and policies, but instead discussing what matters most to all of us collectively - making sure Connecticut provides the greatest person-centered supports for individuals with Intellectual Disabilities.  The problem solving, brainstorming of outcomes and action items that were developed at this meeting have already been implemented at Marrakech.

The group was led by two high caliber, renowned individuals in the field of Intellectual Disabilities, Hanns Meissner and Beth Mount.  We were thrilled that the author of "Creating Blue Space", Hanns Meissner, recognized Marrakech as a progressive organization in this area and personally signed our copy of his book.


Six Things You May Not Know About Our New CAO!

We would like to announce and congratulate Jill Cretella on her new leadership position of Chief Administrative Officer at Marrakech, Inc.! Jill has been part of the Marrakech family since 1999 and we are thrilled to have her continue as part of the new leadership team!  Jill has held various management positions, overseeing many different programs and developing new ones for the agency over the years. She brings this wisdom and experience, along with the extensive knowledge and skill needed to help lead us into a new era of success!

Jill earned her Master's Degree in Social Work from Fordham University and is an Employment and Community Services Program Surveyor for CARF International, an accreditation body for human service organizations across the United States and Canada. Jill is also the Treasurer of the Board of Directors for the Governor's Coalition for Youth with Disabilities. She chairs our own Heath and Wellness Committee, which in its first year and a half, helped Marrakech earn the honor of being awarded the Gold Fit-Friendly Work Site Status from the American Heart Association and the 2013 Large Business of the Year for Workplace Wellness from the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce and the Health Care Council Board due to all of the successful events she lead her committee in organizing.

We've gotten to know Jill pretty well over the years, but here are Six Things you may not know about her!

  1. I have a 12 year old cat named Babalou that I very much treat like a member of our family and she knows it!
  2. In my spare time, I really enjoy fitness classes like Barre, Piloxing and different kinds of Yoga. Now that the weather is getting nice, you may also be likely to find me at one of the Connecticut vineyards on the weekend.
  3. The one food I can't live without is Bacon.  I know that sounds bad coming from the Health and Wellness Chair, but I don't eat it very often...everything in moderation! One food I think should simply not exist is mayonnaise.  I actually think there should be a law banning it! 
  4. One thing many people do know about me is that I have really curly hair that I am lucky enough to also be able to straighten when I want.  However, what many people don't know is that in high school and college, the only way I could get it really straight was to use a clothes iron.  Yes, I would actually lay my head on the ironing board and place the iron directly on my hair to flatten it out. Thank goodness flat iron technology has improved since then!
  5. The last book I read was Random Family: Love, Drugs and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. It is an amazing book and I highly recommend it if you like a true story that reads like a novel and teaches you a lot at the same time.
  6. I grew up taking dance class and until very recently still took adult tap classes, so I can bust out a time step on demand!
Congratulations, again, Jill! Please stay tuned for more "Six Things" blogs coming soon about other members of our Marrakech family!