Select Page


“What I witnessed and lived, I was able to translate into my work.”
– Edwin Báez, Miniaturist

Artists CERF+ Helps

“I can truly say that the support I received after my fire has deepened my faith in humanity and my respect for the corporations that make the woodworking tools that I use every day. I feel blessed.”

– Joe Chasnoff, Woodworker

What Artists Are Saying

Share Your Story

Do you have a story about your own resilience? In your career? In your studio?

  • Max. file size: 256 MB.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“I am 100% sure that my studio and ceramics career would not be what it is today without the wonderful assistance of CERF+.”

 – Angel Brame, Ceramicist

Jeremy Ayers

CERF+ came to my aid in the first days.

CERF+ came to my aid in the first days after my home and studio in Vermont were ruined by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.

I knew about CERF+ from my years working in ceramics, but had not contacted them at this early point because we were busy trying to get the muck and mud out of our home. CERF+ came to me with a partially filled-out application and made it easy for me to access grant money to rebuild my studio. Down the road when I was in the process of putting my studio back together, CERF+ helped me source new materials and equipment and secured me a 25% discount from my suppliers. They were amazing and I couldn’t have put my studio back together without them.

Jeremy Ayers online 

Michael Beitz

This may sound so strange, but I feel like I have to live longer now to make up for all my lost work. It has shifted my attention in an unexpected way towards long term goals and projects. I realized how important my work was to me once I lost it and I will try to better protect my work from now on.

My story is rather unusual. I had a studio in a large warehouse and another tenant attempted to commit insurance fraud by setting his space on fire. Unfortunately my studio was nextdoor to his and I lost all my work, tools, etc. I was in the process of moving and put all of my things in the studio temporarily, so I also lost most all of my possessions. CERF+ made it possible for me to keep working on commissions I had already started. The grant allowed me to purchase tools and materials to start rebuilding my studio practice.

Now, I have a small studio and am currently looking for something larger. I’ve been able to get additional tools and materials to allow my work to move forward. I work on many things at once in the studio, so it’s a slow process to build up new work and ideas, but I am grateful for the opportunity.

This may sound so strange, but I feel like I have to live longer now to make up for all my lost work. It has shifted my attention in an unexpected way towards long term goals and projects. I realized how important my work was to me once I lost it and I will try to better protect my work from now on.

Meb Boden & Tom Vaiciulis

Each step brings us closer to our goal.

Meb Boden HomesteadFive years ago, following colon cancer surgery,Tom had just finished chemo and radiation. He had hollow cheeks, sunken eyes and bony shoulders after fighting a near-deadly infection.

Nonetheless, he came with me to exhibit in a new-for-us craft show in Charlotte, NC. We’d just received assistance from CERF+, which helped us to afford the 1,700-mile trip and to pay workshop helpers who’d taken over Tom’s part of our woodworking business—and the American Craft Council donated our booth space as part of CERF+’s program to help artists in trouble.

Our hotel was on the 11th story with floor-to-ceiling windows facing downtown’s inspiring cityscape. We dragged the long desk in front of the windows and Tom spent the days drawing while I sold our work at the craft show. Each night Tom showed me his designs for a home using our natural resources for energy storage and efficient waste disposal.

For the past four years, with the help of friends, we’ve worked on the house when the weather is fair and in the workshop on stormy days. Tom feels that his dream of building an earth-friendly house saved his life. We still have a lot of work left, but each step brings us closer to our goal.

Meb Boden & Tom Vaiciulis, Meb’s Kitchenwares


“I guess the latest happening for me is that I donated an article to the book “Craftspeople: In Their Own Words” to benefit CERF+. It compares the “Sailor’s Net” from our live-aboard days to CERF+. The article and response from my spoon customers has inspired me to finally make and stick to a writing schedule. First the “Liveaboard” book, then Homesteading in the 21st century, then The Craft World ….picture of home construction sent with update. Long-term project unrelated to emergency assistance.”


Angel Brame

They helped me put my life back together.

My family and I lost our home in the Joplin EF-5 tornado in May of 2011. I had just begun to seriously pursue a full-time career in ceramics when the house and studio blew away that day.

We had homeowner’s insurance and car insurance. That took care of our immediate lives, but not my long term life in my studio. I put that problem on the back burner and figured I’d get to it once we had our home re-established.

As a member of Best of Missouri Hands, I was made aware of CERF+. The people of CERF+ were (and continue to be) incredible. They were patient and assured me there was no expiration date on my assistance claim. They were available to answer questions and guide me during the entire process.

I am 100% sure that my studio and ceramics career would not be what it is today without the wonderful assistance of the CERF+ program. I was able to use my grant to completely re-stock my glazing area and replace several major tools that blew away. This program was a Godsend! I think of this great organization every time I glaze a load of work, and I always will.

I am honored to tell everyone who will listen what a tremendous group this is and how they helped me put my life back together. As an artist, I MUST create. There is no other option. CERF+ gave me the opportunity to create again and I will be forever grateful!

Angel Brame online


“I am able to work full time due to the help I received from CERF+. I have been able to increase my gallery representation by two more galleries this year. I know my rebound to working artist status would have taken so much longer without CERF+.”

Dan Bollock

CERF+ was extremely helpful and positive.

Dan Bollock’s life was a series of highs and lows for 15 months when he experienced a severe injury to his right hand in January 2012.

“The work I did with my hands fed my family. I was told by my doctor that I would be unable to expect much function from my fingers and wrist for six months. When a person is at their lowest they find out just how many people care for them. Friends, family, our church and fellow artists stepped in to stem the tide. A friend told me about CERF+ and suggested I seek assistance from them. Our family could have easily been on the streets because we had no income for six months. Because of the love shown in tangible ways from many people and from CERF+, we were able to survive the storm.”

Frank Bosco

Outreach from CERF+ means so much.

I’m so happy and appreciative for CERF+ and its very existence!

This money is sorely needed and will really help to aid in re-tooling/re-purchasing of the kilns, since that’s one of my first operational priorities since Hurricane Sandy flooding of my studio and home. This award is also great for my psyche too, knowing that people care and are willing to help. As an artist working alone, teaching alone, running the school alone, this outreach from CERF+ means so much. I’ve not experienced this kind of assault on my well being, whether man-made or from nature, and mentally, I’m still feeling the trauma. And I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t lose their property and/or livelihood altogether. So, I’m very fortunate in this respect.

So again, so many thanks to you and CERF+!

Frank Bosco online


“The Academy (NJ NY Academy of Ceramic Art) has been my career art happening, and it happens every day.

It was the German Fluxus Joseph Beuys whose declaration “Everything I do is art”, is one I’ve unabashedly adopted:)

This fall the Academy is closing out it’s 19th year, nearly two decades of providing the real deal when it comes to ceramics education, technology and science. It could have ended in 2013 after Sandy, that is, without your help.

Forever grateful!”

Muffy Brandt
Textile Artist

In February I had a hip replacement. A grant from CERF+ allowed me to continue to pursue my passion and work despite months of time recovering and not earning income. In one of my darkest times this organization provided me with financial support, and in writing about who I am and what I do validated that my pursuits have meaning, which was healing when I felt broken, alone, and detached.

Ann Brauer
Fiber Artist

I was able to re-open my doors.

I was standing at my booth at a craft show in Evanston, IL when friends came running down.

“Ann,” they said. “Is there anyone who can get your work out of your studio?”

Shelburne Falls is flooding.

I tried to reach my husband at home in Massachusetts but he was on the phone with my step-daughter watching the flood waters creep higher around my studio. Soon, I saw my studio float down the river. What an awful feeling. How to cope? This was not supposed to happen. My building had stood since the 1930’s and was high above the river.

Driving home I kept focusing on the future. I knew that I could make quilts that no one else made. I knew I had run my own business for 30 years. But how to go about re-establishing my studio? Of course, I would contact CERF+. After all, I had been donating money to them since they began. Just little amounts but what I could. Indeed, even before I got home I received an e-mail from them, How can we help? What a relief it was to know that they were there. Soon I received a lovely check from them.

Immediately, I rented a new studio space in town and with lots of volunteer help prepared to move in. I ordered storage cabinets and lights. I bought a counter. A design board. What else did I need to display my work? What fabrics did I most need? It was a question I had never wanted to even think about. However, thanks to CERF+ and lots of friends and strangers, I was able to re-open my doors–albeit a bit roughly–even before the Iron Bridge (which separates the two halves of Shelburne Falls) was declared safe for cars.

Ann Brauer online


“After giving myself a year to get my feet back on the ground and determine if I even wanted to continue making quilts, I rebuilt my studio in the old location although much higher and with a very sound foundation. My new studio with its amazing vistas of the river has pushed me to create even more dramatic and free flowing quilts that expand the possibilities of quilt making. Again–thanks CERF+ for being there when I most needed to feel that I could move on.”

Jon Brooks
Furniture Maker + Sculptor

A Wealth of Information and Support for Artists

Early morning on January 18, 2010, my wife awoke next to me hearing a popping sound and then got my attention to a strange light coming through the windows of our home. I came downstairs to investigate and I could hardly believe my eyes: my handmade studios of 40 years were completely ablaze. By the time the local volunteer fire department arrived, there was little they could do. I was completely devastated. The cause of the fire was determined to be the wire from the utility pole pulled off at the front of my studio from a heavy wet snow that night causing sparks and then fire.

My community of family and friends rallied to my support and the news spread fast. The next day Les Snow from CERF+ arrived at our home with a grant check. In speaking with him I found that they have a wealth of information and support for artists facing disasters of all kinds. One thing I learned about insurance is that my studio was an attachment to my homeowners policy and that the contents and all artworks in process and finished pieces (for me that was 36 pieces) were not covered as a business needs to have a commercial policy, which I now have thanks to CERF+.

Thanks to all the global supporters of my work, I now have two beautiful, extremely functional studios and am back to work.

Jon Brooks online

Peter Chartrand

A boost from my peers.

In February 2014, at the age of 66 I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma after experiencing extreme back pain. This form of cancer affects bone mass and I had unknowingly fractured several vertebrae and ribs while building a new kiln.

Until this point I had enjoyed a lifetime of almost perfect health and never had insurance of any kind. I was unprepared psychologically and financially for the onslaught of information, critical decisions and bills which came my way. Applying for a CERF+ grant could hardly have been easier and receiving it was both practical help in financial terms as well as an important psychological boost from my peers.

A small amount of the grant was used to buy a used electric kiln, a bit less exciting than firing my Noborigama perhaps but a way to start producing again. The photo above shows my first thrown pots since starting treatment, on a kickwheel! Things are working out.

Peter Chartrand online

Joe Chasnoff

I am forever grateful.

In 2008, a fire destroyed Joe Chasnoff’s West Virginia workshop. CERF+ was able to help with an emergency grant and a recovery loan, and then brokered a donated band saw from Stanley Black & Decker.

“The gift of woodworking tools including this band saw, given to me by Stanley Black & Decker, has made a huge difference in my life and ability to recover from the loss of my workshop and tools to a fire. I am forever grateful for the gift of these tools which have made it possible for me to make a living, repay the loan from CERF+ and make many beautiful things which have enriched my life and the lives of my clients. I can truly say that the support I received after my fire has deepened my faith in humanity and my respect for the corporations that make the woodworking tools that I use every day. I feel blessed.”


“Eight years later my business is thriving, is fully solar powered and I’m building myself and my new wife a timber frame home including a circular staircase of poplar and cherry wood.”

Andrea Christie
Clay Artist

CERF+ became a central part of my recovery.

When my home and studio in New Orleans flooded after Hurricane Katrina, I was able to get right back to work, and keep my commitment to be in a group show just six months later.

CERF+ first came to my attention years ago while attending the annual clay conference, NCECA. At the time I was moved by the images of artists’ studios in shambles, and grateful that such an organization existed. I had no idea how deep my gratitude would run when CERF+ became a central part of my personal and professional recovery after Hurricane Katrina.

I like to share with people every chance I get about CERF+ and the important work they do, helping artists after a disaster has struck, and educating artists about how to be better prepared for the unthinkable.

Andrea Christie online

Diana Dávila

With help from CERF+, I felt hope. I felt part of a larger community.

“After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, I spent 110 days without electrical power and 45 days without water.

The first way CERF+ helped me was by listening. Just by being there and offering a possibility, I felt hope and stepped out of the narrow space of concern for the future I had put myself in. I felt part of a larger community.   With CERF+ Emergency Relief, I was able to get back on track. I fixed my car and was able to buy materials and battery powered tools to keep working in a more efficient way. A huge physical and emotional weight was lifted. I could put more time and effort into working not only on my craft but into creating a strategy for broadening venues for selling it.”   

Read more about Diana’s story here.

Diana Dávila online

Johnathon DeSoto

"I do feel now, with the help of CERF+, that I’ll be able to make it."

Being a full time craft artist is something that many of us dream about, but it does have its own risks built into it: Lack of financial stability and traditional safety nets are one of them.

I usef to be a Registered Nurse, but gave it up to be a full time artist. This is something that is very important to me. I wanted to feel good about what I am doing and create a working system that is ethical and environmentally responsible as possible. Being an artist is a political statement in itself; no one decides to do it to get rich. I feel very fortunate that through luck and hard work to be able making a living making art with reclaimed materials.

In January 2017, I was creating signs for the Women’s March and had a freak accident that resulted in me cutting my three tendons in my dominate hand. Beyond the fear of not knowing how much mobility I will regain, it really put my art career at risk. I have commissions to build, bills to pay and it happened around a time when I should be planning and paying for summer events. This injury that has a “back to work time” of 10-12 weeks could have the potential of putting my whole year at risk. If you work for yourself, you can’t apply for workman’s comp. As an artist, I don’t currently make enough to afford fancy insurance that would pay my wages while I recovered. Every dollar I make goes right back into creating a viable art career. I had some money saved from the holidays, that I had planned on using to upgrade my equipment. That was really only enough to last for 4-6 weeks without me making any more income. I was definitely scrambling. I talked among other artist friends and one friend told me about CERF+. It seemed like the perfect thing! The people at CERF+ were incredibly helpful. I was dealing with a lot of mental haziness. I had a ton of pain from hand surgery and the amount of pain killers I needed to make it through the day really made it hard to focus. The folks at CERF+ were very patient and helped me through the process.

I am so grateful for Les Snow’s help, specifically. I received a grant that was truly a life saver. It came just in the nick of time, I had basically exhausted all of my savings. I was also awarded a special booth fee waver! This has given me a little breathing room and peace of mind. I can now breathe a little and focus more on rehabilitating my hand. I still have another 6 weeks left of rehab before my hand is 100% . I do feel now, with the help of CERF+, that I’ll be able to make it. I can’t wait to get back to making art, which is truly my passion and a way that I believe I can give back to the community.

Jonathon DeSoto online

Casey Giakas

The best way to help artists and people who have been impacted by disasters is to understand. Artists may have lost the tools they use to express themselves. Everyone had very different experiences. The effect of a decision for me was very different then the effect the same decision had on my boyfriend or our friends in our hurricane [Irma] group. For each person it was different; your emotions are so heightened and for most of us we were having to not only work together with our own tribe but now we have all these other people to try and work with and trust. We are all working towards a similar goal.


Tracy Glover
Glass Artist

In March 2010 glass artist Tracy Glover’s studio was inundated in the largest flood Rhode Island had seen in 200 years. Like many of the people affected by the incredibly rare event, she did not have flood insurance. Enter CERF+.

“CERF+ helped me with grants and loans immediately, which let me set up my business elsewhere,” Glover recalled. “The financial assistance held us over until FEMA and the Small Business Administration came through later.”

“What’s so great about CERF+ is that the people helping you are part of your artistic community. You feel supported by fellow artists. I can’t stress enough when you go through this—and I lost eighty percent of everything in my studio—that good will like CERF+’s is priceless.”

Glover was able to take this devastating event and turn it into an opportunity to refine both her art process and her business. “The flood happened at the end of March and amazingly, thanks in part to CERF+, I was able to ship my first product as soon as the end of May. I changed the focus of my business model, and really so many positive things came from the experience.”

“Our new office is on the third floor of a building, well above the water line if anything like this happens again. I went from maintaining my own glass furnace to renting time from other studios, which really made me more efficient and productive, and lets me just focus on the glass I’m making.”

(excerpted from the Artful Home)

Tracy Glover online

Sheri Hargrove
Glass Artist

I’m looking forward to the day when I can turn all of my energy back into my artwork. It’s only because of the kindness of friends, colleagues, and strangers that I am able to think of the future.

Glass artist Sheri Hargrove has called the beautiful Texas island of Port Aransas her home for more than 12 years. Her shop, Port A Glass, has become a well known fixture in downtown Port “A”. Friends describe Sheri as “an incredibly generous human being who would never ask for assistance – instead, Sheri would be the first to give it.” It turns out that Sheri herself would need help when disaster struck this September.

When Hurricane Harvey rolled in, Sheri’s shop and studio were directly in the line of the storm’s landfall. Her home and business were destroyed all at once with severe damage after a storm surge of 5 feet of storm caused devastating flooding. Sheri had business insurance, but it didn’t cover flood damage and loss due to the area in which her business is located.

When Sheri returned home after evacuating to friends in San Antonio, her home had no walls or ceiling. While her artwork mostly survived, she lost all of her equipment including: three kilns, three saws, a compressor and two drill presses, along with her gallery and teaching space located in her studio-garage.  For now, Port A Glass is temporarily closed and the road to recovery will be laborious and expensive. “Port A Glass is going to rebuild,” Sheri explains. “It’s just going to take some time and money.”

CERF+ and the glass art community have been among the first to provide help. Her local community and friends started a gofundme fundraiser and manufacturers of glass equipment are stepping up to help as well with donated materials and discounts on supplies.

For Sheri, “The trauma of Hurricane Harvey comes in waves.”  She’s constantly reminded that the recovery and rebuilding process is a marathon and not a sprint.  “I’ve been brought to tears of joy so many times throughout this ordeal by the beautiful, giving, loving spirit of my fellow Americans.  I’m looking forward to the day when I can turn all of my energy back into my artwork. It’s only because of the kindness of friends, colleagues, and strangers that I am able to think of the future.”

Somiko Harrington
Fiber Artist

This experience has made me realize how I need to protect my intellectual property and assets and be more business savvy about the value of my work.

Fiber artist Somiko Harrington and her family evacuated their first floor home and work studio in Fort Lauderdale, Florida as Hurricane Irma was churning up the coast of Florida. They had made plans to evacuate until the storm was completely over. When she returned several days later, she was faced with significant flooding and damage in her home and studio. Although Somiko had been through several hurricanes in Florida, she had never experienced anything like this before.

The impact of the storm damaged or destroyed her tools, equipment, completed work, clothes,  furnishings and much more. Her family had no electricity for weeks and she was out of work for a month with limited transportation.  Luckily, she was able to receive assistance from local city resources and CERF+.

“I called CERF+ during the evacuation,” Somiko describes.  “They were always there to answer questions.  I had so much gratitude for the fact that I never had to wait a long time for any kind of response.  Their services are consistently amazing and they really care about my needs. I received immediate help after my application was submitted.  Thanks to CERF+, I was able to restore some of my work tools and art supplies for upcoming craft shows and projects and I’m able to start recovering.”

For many artists like Somiko, the storm temporarily put a halt to her creative work and income. The experience was a wake-up call. “This experience has made me realize how I need to protect my intellectual property and assets and be more business savvy about the value of my work.”

When asked about the lessons she learned from Irma, Somiko shares:

“Tell your story and give advice on what you would have done differently. Don’t allow outside influences and inexperienced people tell you what you need to do.  Research and find the best resources you need for yourself and your family.  Make sure you’re in a safe place and seek advice from experienced hurricane survivors. Read forums and other stories of hurricane artists. Most of all keep water, non-perishable food, a backpack kit, a generator, flash lights and candles, and cash emergency funds in case you cannot get to a bank or ATM.”


Marcus Maria Jung

The support that came through CERF+ was a key factor in finding my way back to my creative expression.

About 3 years ago, I lost my art studio, tools and most of my belongings on Cobb Mountain, California in the devastating Valley Fire of September 2015. The experience of this loss was fundamental and very personal – a reality shift of major proportions. At first I was unsure on how to proceed. After losing my art studio and most of my belongings, any creative impulse and urge for my artistic expression were completely shut down.

The support that came through CERF+ was a key factor in finding my way back to my creative expression. I was able to purchase a new set of tools and a used truck that helped me tremendously in moving forward into my creative life. I am very grateful for all the ways that support showed up; how people came together; how artists especially stepped up and worked together ever since the fire. The loss and how these disasters affect us are very personal to each one of us, and it becomes a collective and universal experience through the ways we help each other, share our stories and work and create together in the time after disasters.

Excerpted from “The Importance of Art and Creative Expression After Catastrophe”.

Marcus Maria Jung online

Russell Karkowski
Furniture Maker

I was able to call on CERF+.

We learned early in the flood recovery process that we weren’t going to recover by ourselves. You start to see yourself as a member of a community, and that the recovery process is community wide. It’s a humbling process because artists are usually self reliant—problem solvers who like to do things on their own.

Thinking about and preparing for disasters and other emergencies takes mental and physical practice, including thinking about who I would call on. I am happy to say I was able to call on CERF+ in this case.

We found out about CERF+ through other artists. People may not realize how much of a physiological lift it is to get a grant.

Carol Keiser
Studio Artist

The loan from CERF+ was a life saver.

I am forever grateful that CERF+ was there for me when I needed them with a quick and easy loan that helped me get through several months of recovery during a long winter.

I broke seven bones in my arm and wrist when I fell very hard on the ice while I was ice skating. I was unable to use my arm for work and everything took so much longer to do: try opening glaze jars with one hand, moving tiles around, or loading a kiln. It was work in real slow motion; everything took three times as long. The loan from CERF+ was a life saver that allowed me to keep going through a long recovery without worrying about paying bills. And so I owe a huge thank you to CERF+ for all their support.

Carol Keiser online


“I was juried into NAWA, the National Association of Women Artists, in October with an induction ceremony at the Rubin Museum in N.Y.City. It was a nice honor, and validation of me and my work. This is for the painting.”

Michael Kline

CERF+ assistance felt like a vote of confidence.

I am writing to let you know how incredibly grateful and moved I am by CERF+’s response to my accident. It came at a time when we were in such a state of shock and uncertainty.The financial help was invaluable as my wife and I waded through medical bills. And, it also felt like a vote of confidence that was such a boost! We feel so fortunate to be part of such a caring community that is both local and national! We have both known what an important resource CERF+ is for artists, but to experience it firsthand powerfully enforces that feeling and connection. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the grant and for the support you provided to our family during this difficult time. I have started to work with clay again – slowly – I have small pinch pots sitting all over the house, which has been fun for our two tiny gals too. I hope to return full force in the New Year.

Michael Kline online

Jim Kelso
Jeweler + Metalsmith

CERF+ offered me moral support.

In 1995 a fire destroyed a good portion of our home and my studio, leaving significant loss and damage to tools, equipment, materials, and no place to do business or live. Fortunately we were insured and, over the next five years, rebuilt and restored our home and my business. Over these years since our fire, I’ve seen CERF+ grow to offer a wide spectrum of services to those hit by disaster, including, technical, financial, networking, research and moral support. These are all necessary components of disaster recovery. Over the years I’ve referred others I know in crises to CERF+. I have also pointed other craftspeople toward CERF+’s abundant expertise regarding both studio and health insurance. They have been the most informative and helpful on this subject of any organization I have contacted.

George McCauley
Ceramic Artist

I want to encourage all y’all who find yourselves in need to put aside any feelings of shame and give these caring people a chance to help.

I found out about The Craft Emergency Relief Fund, CERF+, through friends who were helped years ago in their time of need. I just knew I had to learn about this wonderful organization and called asking “how can I help”. Through the years I have donated work to the fundraisers and a percentage off the top from the sales of my film, Ron Meyers and the Usual Suspects. I feel a part of our clay community and believe we can all help each other in some way.

Last year I found myself in need of help however my embarrassment would not let me make the call. Shoot, the fine folks at CERF+ and I know each other but it took me until March of 2017 to actually ask. Cornelia, Les and the staff eased my embarrassment and helped me through the process with compassion and love. The financial help came within 2 weeks, my needs were met and my career is back in really “good hands”. My fears, emotions and health are so happy thanks to CERF.

I want to encourage all y’all who find yourselves in need to put aside any feelings of shame and give these caring people a chance to help. I also would ask y’all to donate work for the fundraisers that help keep the river flowing.

Jacob Mitas
Violin Bow Maker

CERF+ saved my business.

As a violin bow maker and restorer, losing the use of my hands is the worst thing that could happen to my career. And indeed it happened in the spring of 2015 when I fell off a ten-foot ladder to a concrete floor, breaking my right wrist and index finger, and spraining my left wrist.

I couldn’t work for months while the bones healed. Serendipitously a friend told me of CERF+ just a few days after the accident. Hearing of the possibility of grant assistance through a time of emergency was extremely uplifting. As a self-employed craftsman in America it sometimes seems no one has my back. It was heartening to discover that CERF+ actually does, with no strings attached.

I am extremely grateful for the financial support CERF+ was able to offer to get through my time of healing. CERF+ saved my business from financial disaster and allowed me to take a break from anxiety to focus on healing. With diligent physical therapy, I’m back at the workbench with full use of both hands, new bow orders and restoration projects to keep them busy, financially afloat once again, and with a revitalized appreciation of my craft career. CERF+, thank you.

Jacob Mitas online

Billie Mitchell

I’m not one who accepts help graciously. But the love that these people have shown us has gone straight to our hearts. I just never knew I was going to be the one who needed help.

Georgia ceramicist Billie Mitchell began her career as a painter, but two bouts of Hodgkin’s lymphoma left her with shaky hands—so she turned to clay in 1993.

“I just looked at it as another challenge,” Billie says. “If someone tells me I can’t do something, I’m going to prove them wrong. I’m a strong person, and I just don’t let obstacles get in my way.”

Billie faced another life-changing challenge. The record-breaking storms in late September 2009 caused a deluge of 14-18 in. of rain to fall on her home in Acworth, Ga. The storms also caused a 23-ft section of her house’s foundation to collapse entirely.

Billie was away in New Mexico when the storms hit and a neighbor called a few days later to tell her that the water, which had cascaded down the hill, had now puddled into a veritable lake in her front yard. There was more bad news: Her walkout basement studio had been badly damaged. A wall of mud forced its way through the cinder block, pushing her 350-lb kiln and sculptural clay pieces across the floor of her studio.

A month later, Billie was stuck. She could not work, and she could live not in the house. FEMA had given her some money, but she did not have flood insurance; she estimated that it would cost thousands to replace the foundation of her house.

Meanwhile, her friends in the art world rallied around her, raising money and offering to help her cart off the mud and cinder blocks. CERF+ was right there with them, giving her cash so that she could replace her equipment and get back to work.

Brian Nettles
Studio Potter

I will always be thankful and a supporter.

When Brian Nettles opened Nettles Pottery in 1997 in Pass Christian, Mississippi, he’d always see CERF+’s boothat clay conferences he attended around the country. I’d always think, “damn that would be horrible” when I saw photos of artist studios after disasters.

“In 2005 Hurricane Katrina came ashore with a 37-foot storm surge wiping my gallery and studio down to the concrete slab, ripping my home in two with water over the roof.

The first day the mail resumed in my town I received a handwritten letter from Cornelia Carey, with a grant check telling me to spread the word about CERF+ to other craftsmen in my area and use the money as needed. Weeks later Cornelia came to town to pass out applications and see the disaster for herself and to help spread the word about CERF+. CERF+ assisted me after the storm in securing a new kiln and grant money to help me restart my studio. After seeing how important CERF+ was to the Gulf Coast arts community after Katrina, I will always be thankful and a supporter.

Ted Ney
Designer + Furniture Maker

I will always be grateful to the folks at CERF+.

In the middle of December, 2012, I walked into my shop just like any other day. I went to work, cutting maple on my table saw for a set of display cases I was building. I run a safe shop—over arm blade guards, push sticks, etc. I can’t tell you what happened, but the next thing I know I’m calling 911 and waiting for the rescue van to take me to the emergency room with major damage to four fingers.

During my recovery period my wife, contacted CERF+ on my behalf. I filled out the paperwork, asking for a grant to purchase a SawStop table saw and in virtually no time at all, the staff emailed and said that it had been approved. I was astounded at the efficiency and the compassion of the CERF+ organization.

Ted Ney online, North Cove Design 

Shawn O’Connor

CERF+ is an amazing resource.

I underwent an emergency surgery to correct an obstructed small intestine. At the time of the surgery (October 2014) I was unfortunately uninsured due to a recent move. After a week of hospitalization, I was left with medical bills of over $28,000. For six weeks I was on doctor’s orders to lift no more than 10lbs, which left me unable to work during this time.

I was encouraged to apply for assistance from CERF+ after they became aware of my situation. The staff at CERF+ was very supportive and helpful throughout the application process and, after applying, I was quickly awarded a grant. This support was extremely helpful in putting a dent in my medical debt. They have continued to follow up with my recovery and have provided additional resources to get me back on track.

Working in the craft field is not a decision based upon financial prosperity, but one based in a passion to create objects with our hands to enrich the lives of others. CERF+ is an amazing resource for craft artists who are in need of financial support during difficult times in their lives. I encourage anyone who is able to support this wonderful organization.

Shawn O’Connor online

Liane Okamitsu

A generous contributor to my recovery.

CERF+ and Rio Grande assistance was instrumental to Liane’s Hurricane Sandy disaster recovery.

For years Rio Grande has been the major supplier of materials and equipment for my handmade jewelry business. Then Hurricane Sandy destroyed my home and studio. Besides losing most of my personal property, I lost valuable equipment, jewelry supplies and displays. It was devastating especially right before the holiday season.

Almost immediately CERF+ was there with financial assistance for me; they also contacted Rio Grande on my behalf. In late December, Rio Grande became a generous contributor to my recovery by providing me with a significant credit on my account with them. That helped me replace equipment and materials that were swept away by Sandy. Without this aid, my business’ road to recovery would have been almost non-existent. And along with the financial aid, I was deeply touched by the hand written note sent to me by my contact at Rio Grande, Janet Haldeman, expressing their empathy and support for my situation. Coming at a time when I felt adrift in a sea of debris, mud, and red tape, it was like a mental anchor for me and gave me renewed focus and salvaging my business.

Rio Grande’s spirit as a giving community that fosters creativity is one that I will always appreciate and a company that I look forward to doing business with for many more years to come.

Liane Okamitsu online

Michael Puryear
Furniture Maker

CERF+ is a Very Smart Organization.

Several years ago, Shokan, NY-based furniture maker Michael Puryear was working on his table saw when the splitter got thrown by the blade and cut 40% through his trachea. He immediately understood the seriousness of the accident when he took his hand away from the wound and realized he was breathing through his neck. His second thought was that he could die. Fortunately, the overhead door to his shop was open and his partner saw him staggering and immediately came to assist. He was airlifted to Albany Medical Center for emergency surgery and a tracheotomy and after a week in intensive care, he was released. Since then, he has two additional surgeries.

Despite the seriousness of the accident, his recovery was fairly quick. With a CERF+ grant and brokered booth waivers at two critical shows, Michael’s creative career hardly skipped a beat. “I’d been aware of CERF+ almost from the beginning, notes Michael “I just think it’s a very smart organization. This interest in craft and how one survives.” He particularly values CERF+’s proactive preparedness agenda. “I think they make a tremendous contribution as an organization now with their proactive campaign. You can mitigate accidents by thinking about them beforehand.” See video of Michael Puryear here.

Michael Puryear online


“In 2014 I was honored by the Renwick Alliance as an Artist of Distinction and this year the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture acquired my Dan Chair featured on the CERF+ website. I have attached the artist’s statement for it.

(The opportunity to work with woods supplied by Historical Woods of America, specifically poplar from Monticello and pecan from Mt. Vernon, provided me with the opportunity to acknowledge and honor the contributions of African American slaves to this country. Like my own ancestry this heritage began before the founding of the United States. African Americans have fought with honor and loyalty in every war of our nation. They have significantly contributed economically, socially, culturally and politically to American culture.

The Dan Chair is an expression of my pride in being a descendant of slaves. It is an interpretation of a style of chair found among peoples of what was historically known as the Slave Coast of West Africa. One of those people is the Dan. The chair symbolizes the nobility of American slaves and the ukibori, a technique of producing raised patterns in wood, on the legs represents the scars of bondage.)”

Clifford Rainey

I learned that some things need to be in a much more secure place. In the new house I’m trying to find ways I can secure things from fire.  Hopefully this will never happen again but if it does, hopefully we can make it safer. A lot of people lost their lives [2017 Northern California Atlas Peak Fire) and we didn’t so it was a matter of saying, this is going to be difficult. It was one hour at a time and then one day at a time and then one week at a time. There’s nowhere to go but forward.

Hope Rovelto

Hope Rovelto never saw the car coming. She couldn’t even see it leave.

“I was face-down. I was in disbelief,” she says, recalling the early morning last  November when, coming home from the gym in downtown Philadelphia, the ceramic-shop supervisor at the University of the Arts set off to cross the street. A car that was apparently driving fast, and turning without signaling swung onto the street Hope was crossing and, she says, “just drove right into my knees.”

That began what would be, for Hope, a long journey of recovery. From the next moment on, it was a journey that, often, she would not have to take alone. “I can’t get over how much people helped out. It’s kind of amazing,” she says today, eight months after the accident.

“I don’t make a lot of money, I don’t come from a rich family, I’m just a worker — and everyone knew that,” she says. “People were donating money; people would send me checks for $10, $25. Some people I didn’t even know! There was a blog, Hope for Hope. That’s one thing about the Internet — things went fast. People heard my story.”

Hope’s story involved two-week stays in both a hospital and a rehab center.

As an artist, Hope has learned the importance of being prepared for the unexpected — and being covered. From now on, she’ll examine very closely the options and details of insurance coverage.

“I realize, okay, accidents can happen. Paying $20 more a month is worth more than paying a higher deductible. I’ve learned a ton.”

Hope Rovelto online

Amy Sabrina

What a blessing that CERF+ exists

After an initial diagnosis of stage IV breast cancer, I learned that some tumors had returned. I reduced my work time and immersed myself in the care necessary for healing, care that wasn’t covered by insurance.

My personal funds were soon depleted and I explored other options. I searched the Internet, seeking emergency funding for artists and craftspeople. I was relieved to learn there was such an organization.

I spoke with a staff member immediately, then a few more times while filling out my application. Staff at CERF+ was always kind, patient, and present, which I greatly appreciated as I was feeling rather anxious.

Within about two weeks of my application being received, a check was mailed to me. What a blessing that CERF+ exists and is there for those of us in need.

Thank you, CERF+!!!

(Amy passed away in September of 2013.)

Red Weldon Sandlin

We never think we will be the ones that may have to ask for help when an unfortunate accident happens that takes us out of our studio and our way of making a living. After having a broken wrist, I wasn’t sure if my hand would ever move again after surgery. Our hands are the most valuable tools. There are not enough words to thank the CERF+ folks and the generous people who have contributed to CERF+ enough for a most helpful and heartfelt gift.

Red Weldon Sandlin online

Gary Spykman
Furniture Maker

During the initial three or four days of clean up after the flood—we threw out all the junk and dried out what we could. But, it was really a month or two month process to get to the point of working again. Everything had to be redone, including rewiring.

About three weeks after the flood I was trying to figure out if I was going to be able to keep my assistant. I actually didn’t seek CERF+ assistance. Amazingly, I was contacted by CERF+ staff, offering help. I sent in an application and in less than a week I had a grant check.

The grant award was not a lot of money, but it was enough so I could keep my assistant through the clean up and until income started up. CERF+’s assistance provided a bridge from cleanup to getting back to work. Beyond the volunteer help of friends, CERF+ aid was the only real help available. That made a real difference.

Gary Spykman online

Kazuki Takizawa
Glass Artist

Assistance from CERF+ helped me very much in getting through this tough time.

A very good friend of mine received emergency funding from CERF+ several years ago when a neighbor’s booth set up at a craft show has collapsed and damaged many of his art works. In spring 2016, I slipped and fell off a ladder, and fractured my wrist bones. I had a cast on for about 4 months and I was not able to blow glass and make work for about 6 months. Although I worked on jobs where I did not have to do the blowing myself, assistance from CERF+ helped me very much in getting through this tough time.
Kazuki Takizawa online
Kate Tonguis

“It was the only true, immediate, on the ground, when I was dyin’, help that I got.”

Kate Tonguis online


“I have just completed the largest wholesale order of my career at 825 pieces. I have changed the structure of my business to accommodate my living with Stage IV cancer; I am teaching classes and seminars and have just opened up a beautiful open studio space inside my own studio in a commercial office building where I maintain a $1 million insurance policy. Lesson learned!”

Dave Warren

I will always be grateful for their help

I lived and worked near Bastrop, Texas in the Lost Pines area for ten years. On September 4th, 2011 the worst fire in Texas’ history destroyed my studio and home along with 1700 other homes in an area the size of Rhode Island.

The day the fire started we had only five minutes to escape. The wind was high that day and the flames reached 400 feet into the sky. We ran for our lives.

Losing everything is the worst feeling anyone could ever have. A friend with Bastrop Fine Arts Guild emailed me a link to CERF+. However, I thought it was another fraudulent set-up. There was a lot of “rainbow chasing” after the fire.

At first, I was surly toward the staff, but I soon understood what CERF+ really is; and I will always be grateful for their help. Thank you all.

Kimberly Willcox
Mixed Media

“There were times when I wanted to give up. Thanks to people like CERF+, I have not.” 

“Nothing can prepare you for a disaster.”

While away at a show in July 2010 Kimberly’s world turned upside down with one short call from her daughter: “Stay calm…your studio is on fire.” A devastating electrical fire combined with hours of water to combat it turned her 3,000 sq. foot studio and its 25-year collection of machines and tools into water, soot, mildew, rust and ashes.

Within 10 days of submitting a request for assistance, Kimberly received a grant and a no-interest loan from CERF+. In the weeks to follow, CERF+ staff was able to garner significant in-kind contributions (a booth fee waiver from the American Craft Council, equipment from Stanley Black & Decker Corporation and building materials from Lowe’s).

“There were times when I wanted to give up. Thanks to people like CERF+, I have not.”

The first body of work she’s created since the fire is called “The Gift of Receiving” and was, she notes, “welcomed with hugs, stories, tears and…yes, sales.”

Kimberly Wilcox online

Share This