Connor Lites from Adelante’s marketing team is a quilter and fiber artist. He has also been a job coach for Adelante and truly cares about helping people with disabilities live fun and enriching lives. So, as part of this year’s Kivitz Innovation Fund grants, Connor pitched a project to create scarves with the people with disabilities participating in Adelante’s day programs.

people with disabilities work with staff to drop colored ink into water as they are creating scarves.
Albuquerque Adventures clients work with Connor on the marbling process before creating scarves.

Why Create Scarves with our Clients?

When asked why he wanted to create scarves in collaboration with the clients in the Adelante Adventures programs, Connor had some great reasons why he chose this project. First, fiber arts are great for stress relief. Second, the activity which involves small squirt bottles improves motor skills. Third, creating something tangible like a scarf brings a sense of accomplishment. Furthermore, Connor felt that the scarves were unique works of art work that many people had not seen or experienced before. He wanted to share something interesting and new with the clients.

Leading the Project & Gaining Leadership Skills

The other key aspect of the Kivitz Innovation Fund is to help staff who are awarded a grant to gain or improve their professional skills. For example, Connor’s grant involved project management. He learned how to develop a timeline and get buy-in from partners. He met with the managers of the day programs to set dates and times and to explain the project. Furthermore, it involved gathering the costs of supplies to create a budget. Leadership skills such as directing the work of other people, is also a part of these projects. Connor says, “I took this opportunity to demonstrate, refine, and build my leadership skills.”  

To Connor, those were all important aspects of taking on this extra work. He valued learning about managing his budget and being responsible for the funds. Initially, Connor ran into supply chain issues. Then, he realized some scarves he ordered were really small and he wanted to use larger scarves that created more value for the clients. Connor also relayed, “I personally tried to stay under budget because I’ve had several other incidental expenses, like my drying rack.” He had solid advise for future grantees, too. “Just make sure you justify your expenses, be transparent, turn in those receipts, and keep copies! “

Ultimately, It’s About the Clients

“The clients I worked with were elated making their scarves,” Connor said. Initially, just one class was scheduled, but soon two more were set up. In short, because the clients loved making them. The staff enjoyed watching the process, too. Every scarf was beautiful in its own way, just like the people that created them.

Connor also thought the scarves might be a way for artists with disabilities to potentially earn extra money. By extension, they could also learn some basic business skills, too. Perhaps that’s a goal for next year’s Kivitz Innovation Fund grant.

Get a Scarf!

If you would like to have a beautiful scarf custom created by the Adelante clients, you can! It’s part of our holiday fundraising campaign. You can even come work alongside these artists as they create yours. Learn more on our holiday donations page. There are also other items available with client artwork on them. They are nice gifts for your friends who care about the community. (And definitely wonderful to keep for yourself!)