New Tomorrows participants paint birdhouses for annual fundraiser

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Isabel Albisu carefully let her paintbrush trail across the awning of a little wooden birdhouse she began painting two days ago. Albisu wasn’t sure what she would do with it, but eventually the idea came to her. Once completed, the gray, black and red motif she created will wind up outside someone’s home.
Albisu, along with other participants in the New Tomorrows program spent much of Monday and Tuesday painting birdhouses. The birdhouses will be part of a silent auction fundraiser for Rowan Helping Ministries’ Pass the Plate fundraiser. The event, which is in its seventh year, will be April 20. The fundraiser will be at the Salisbury Country Club, 747 Club Drive, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tickets for the event are $50 and the attire is dressy casual.
The New Tomorrows Program teaches life skills classes to guests at the Rowan Helping Ministries shelter. The classes are held on weekday mornings. The classes include food preparation, stress management and life skills.
All of the artists named their birdhouses, which organizers hope collectively fetch more than $1,000.
“I call this ‘The Crazy Bird’,” Albisu said in a melodic Cuban accent.
She’s a native of Cuba, but has been in the United States for 43 years.
“In the beginning it was crazy. I didn’t know what to do,” she said.
The idea eventually came to her and so did the aptly named birdhouse. The painting allowed Albisu to retreat to her creative side. She used to paint and decorate wooden refrigerator magnets as a business.
“I enjoy coming here. It’s something new I learned. I’ve never painted birdhouses before,” she said.
The New Tomorrows meets several times a week at Park Avenue United Methodist Church. Volunteer Gail Kimball’s son-in-law Brian Howell made all eight birdhouses. Kimball said her whole family helped design the birdhouses and in a week he’d made them all. One of the birdhouses looks like a school and another looks like a church.
“The whole focus is to raise money to give back to the New Tomorrows program,” Kimball said.
David Bruce, a participant in the program, decided to leave his birdhouse unadorned so the person who buys it can add what they like. He’s been with the program for about nine months. He spent 10 years in the furniture business and 15 in the construction industry. He is a Salisbury native and graduate of Western Carolina University.
“It’s a way to give back and support what goes on on a day-to-day basis,” Bruce said.
Bruce said the program gives him an opportunity to meet people and get to know people he wouldn’t have otherwise met.
John Steele, also a Salisbury native, has been with the program for two months. Steele moved to Texas for a number of years and made his way back to Salisbury. Along the way, Steele graduated from Tuskeegee University with a political science degree, got married, had four children and now has two grandchildren.
“This program introduced us to a lot of new things,” Steele said.
The fundraiser, he said, is a way of giving back to the community and he’s grateful for all the support that the program receives.

Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253. Twitter: Facebook: