In a grey, non-descript building on North Decatur Road, there is a group of folks working magic with discarded textiles that might not even make
the cut at your local thrift store.
Damber Pulami is one of those magicians. Bending over a giant wooden loom he studies the design to make sure the fabric is placed exactly right, and then pushes the yarn into place. He slowly transforms the cloth into a stunning rug.
Pulami is also one of ten employees weaving his way to a better life through re:loom, a program that trains and educates individuals who’ve struggled to secure and maintain employment.
Proceeds from their finished products are used to support their salaries and the Initiative for Affordable Housing Inc., a private, non-profit agency that provides homeless families permanent, affordable housing.
“It’s easier to get a job when you have a job,” said Lisa Wise, executive director of IAH. In addition to learning how to weave, workers pick up soft skills such as problem solving and getting along with fellow workers in a close environment.
It also gives them a stable salary and full health coverage which in turn gives them a chance to break the cycle of poverty, Wise explained.
Although the program is only a year old, to date three employees have taken the skills and assurance they developed at re:loom and moved onto other jobs.
“I have been amazed to see how folk’s lives are transformed and how quickly their self-esteem improves,” said Wise. “This speaks to the underlying issue of how important work is and having something of value to contribute.”
“[re:loom is] giving me a chance to shine,” said weaver Judy King to Kayla Miller in a recent blog post. “To show what I love to do, what I’ve always wanted to do, and now I’m being given a chance … It’s like I’ve found my calling in life,” King said. “My day-to-day life is more calm now, I’m more
pleasant. I think it’s from weaving.”
On the job training includes instruction from volunteer members of the Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild and guiding volunteers as they process donations. Clothing, linens, upholstery material, yarn, thread, plastic bags, even sails are cut into strips and sorted according to color and texture.
Although rugs are the majority of the current inventory, re:loom will eventually be selling placemats, table runners, tote bags and other woven items.
“We are open to suggestions and eager to try new things,” said Wise. “Re:loom has huge potential for us.”
You can shop for re:loom items in person Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Alternative Gift Market sponsored by North Decatur Presbyterian Church at 611 Medlock Road, Decatur 30033. If you’d like to volunteer, donate material or purchase a product, visit www.reloom.org.