Holiday Bazaar


The Holiday Bazaar + Hanukkah

It’s a holiday miracle, but it seems that every holiday season we find a way to top ourselves from the year before. Few events could be a better example of this than our annual Holiday Bazaar. The bazaar is the December sale that we host in order to raise money for the clients and their activities, and the stats speak for themselves: this year we sold $825 worth of items – a new record for any event! It’s not hard to figure out why; the entire Cog team worked with the clients for months to create handmade items to sell at this year’s market.

One of the heroes of our TRU department is Stephanie Baryla, our Art/Enrichment Therapist; she is involved in almost every UI Rehab creative manifestation. For the rest of us, it’s easy – all we do is come up with the ideas; for her, she’s the one who figures out how to actually execute them. Her creativity is extraordinary yet practical, utilizing trained art therapy techniques to enrich the lives of the clients in astounding ways. Stephanie has her Master’s in Art Therapy and Counseling (MA), she recently received her license in art therapy (ATR) and is about to take her board certification in March (ATR-BC)…that’s more letters than an accountant. As a soon-to-be ATR-BC with her MA, the only thing we need to say is that she is AMA-ZI-NG.

If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.

John Cleese
Edwin painting the fine details of his book angel

Bazaar Items For Sale:

  • Book Angels
  • Yarn Christmas Trees
  • Handmade Ornaments
  • Homemade Body Scrubs
  • Homemade Body Sprays
  • Decorated Sugar Cookies
  • Veggie Cards
  • Handmade coasters
  • Mugs w/ hot chocolate kits

Shawin working like a craftsman on his handmade ornament

The book angels have become a staple at Universal – they are converted from the pages of old books into decorated “angels” with wings, each of them unique based on the client who is painting them. The veggie cards were a surprise addition this year, turning into one-of-a-kind cards made with nothing more than vegetables and colored ink (see below). The handmade ornaments and yarn Christmas trees were as individual and beautiful as the imaginations which created them. As Stephanie loves to say, everyone has an artist inside of them – it’s simply her job to coax it out.

The full display of our 2022 Holiday Bazaar had all kinds of colors, items, cookies, and cards.

Will and the boys playing the Dreidel game
Special edition cards made with real fruits and vegetables dipped in colored ink (celery, peppers, okra, and lemon)

As part of their therapy and community enrichment, the clients also went shopping with Latisha from our Enrichment department to purchase mini gift basket items, which were then assembled during Cognitive therapy sessions throughout the weeks leading up to the bazaar. However, not only did we have an extravagant menu of custom gifts, we also had generous contributions from the families of our staff. Something in the December air always brings out the warmest versions of ourselves.

We were sent handmade yarn coasters from Shawna’s mother (Shawna is our Therapeutic Enrichment Coordinator). The sugar cookies were made and donated by the parents of Lauren, our Community Enrichment Coordinator. Lauren’s parents were extremely gracious with their time; they baked 200 sugar cookies and then spent five hours with the clients at the Day Program teaching them multiple decorating techniques and guiding them through the lessons. The following day, our TRU vocational department wrapped up each cookie in individual packaging with the clients.

Just in case that wasn’t enough for one day, we also celebrated the beginning of Hannukah. Each year one of our Jewish clients volunteers to give the traditional Hannukah blessing and to teach a short lesson about the holiday. After the blessing is finished, the client briefly discusses the meaning behind the holiday and answers any questions that others may have about it. We also set up tables around the dining area to play the Dreidel game – a traditional Hannukah game – which can become very competitive, as all games do. We highly value the diverse cultures and backgrounds of our clients – especially so during the holidays – and we want to showcase those differences while also keeping things lighthearted and upbeat. We ended the day on such a holiday high culminated from an unbelievable amount of effort, planning, and creativity from the clients, staff, and therapists. The craziest part is that there are still more holiday celebrations ahead. These clients sure are living their best lives!

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