American dream weavers

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt June 6, 2013
Weavehouse workers making products on donated looms using recycled materials.

Weavehouse workers making products on donated looms using recycled materials.

At the Weavehouse in Decatur the looms clack together in an unsynchronized chorus. The half dozen workers, mostly women, turn scraps of garments into works of art. Tee-shirts and old sheets become rugs, belts, and handbags.

The workers at re:loom keep busy. They smile as they thread material through the wooden looms. Weavehouse employees are moving up in the world. The homeless adults are referred to the program through the Decatur-based Initiative for Affordable Housing, re:loom’s parent organization.

The re:loom project weaves people’s lives back together.

The Initiative shelters the homeless our community. re:loom puts the homeless to work and gets them ready for a life that most of us – myself included – take for granted.

Full disclosure: I’m doing some volunteer public relations consulting for re:loom. The only thing I get out of helping re:loom is gratitude for the blessed life that I lead and the wonderful opportunities that I have.

Lisa showing off a finished product.

Lisa showing off a finished product.

I first met Lisa Wise a few weeks ago. We chatted for a bit about the re:loom project. Lisa has been trying to spread the word but she needs an assist from folks who know how to craft the message (that would be me).

Lisa has spent most of her career helping the homeless through the Initiative, a group formed in 1990 by two local churches. Lisa said re:loom is a more recent venture, created to bridge the gap between homelessness and a fulltime job.

The idea behind re:loom can be a little confusing for people who see it as a startup business. Lisa said while re:loom workers produce and sell their products online, all of the money – all of it – goes right back into the program.

What do the workers get in exchange?

They get to work 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday. They get health insurance. They get vacation. They get experience that will fill gaps in their resumes. They get crucial life training: how to manage time efficiently, how to dress appropriately for work, how to act professionally.

The employees leave the Weavehouse on a path to full financial independence.

The Weavehouse

The Weavehouse

I can’t tell you how many times I groan on my way to work on a Monday morning. Some of you do it, too. We complain, but there are millions of people in America who wish they had somewhere to go on a Monday morning.

If you currently have a job, do you ever really think about how many people would gladly swap places with you?

I plan to keep you updated on the various goings on at the Weavehouse and with re:loom. I encourage all of you to donate to this wonderful and worthy project.

You can reach re:loom at

One of the beautiful old looms donated to the re:loom project.

One of the beautiful old looms donated to the re:loom project.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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