Impressive artwork stocks YWCA shelves because of generous WV do - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Impressive artwork stocks YWCA shelves because of generous WV donations

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Everyone has heard that one person's trash is another person's treasure, and while the YWCA 2nd Seating Gently Used Furniture shop in Charleston is far from trash-laden, it has treasures few people would expect.

"Inevitably, we have unique things," explained YWCA Executive Director Debby Weinstein. "But I think people will be surprised by this, and trust me, these will go very fast."

Weinstein is basking in the glow of an oil painting by Charles Baskerville, recently donated to the YWCA by area philanthropist Betty Schoenbaum, whose late husband, Alex, developed the Shoney's restaurant chain.

"Recently I sold my home in Charleston and donated many items to the YWCA's 2nd Seating Furniture Store, including the Charles Baskerville painting," Schoenbaum said. "I donated my furnishings to the YWCA because they care so well for women and children in our community who have some of the greatest challenges, and they are such good stewards of charitable donations."

And that's how the circle of good things with the YWCA works.

Gina Puzzoli, owner of Stray Dog Antiques in Charleston, has given the YWCA two Paula Clendenin pieces, one Susan Poffenbarger piece and most recently a Helen Chilton watercolor.

She said those big-ticket items can mean big-ticket help for the community.

"The YWCA is extremely, extremely diligent," Puzzoli said. "I do take clothes, things that don't sell – I have three boxes of things in the back right now.

"But a piece of art, they can sell that and get money … and that cash goes into those projects."

Puzzoli operates Stray Dog Antiques as a second career. She is a psychologist by trade, and spent many years at Prestera where she said she saw a lot of women who needed help – concrete help, such as clothing, housing and job placement.

The YWCA Past & Present Gently Used Clothing Store in Charleston sells donated, gently used clothing and accessories for men, women and children to support the YWCA Alicia McCormick Homes, which are 10 transitional housing apartments for battered or homeless women and children who are working toward living independent lives.

The 2nd Seating Store sells donated furniture and housewares. It's designed to offset operating costs of the YWCA Shanklin Center, which is eight independent-living, permanent residences for disabled female victims of elder abuse and also the YWCA Empowerment Homes for Women. Those are handicap-accessible apartments for chronically homeless, disabled women.

The costs for those are homes are subsidized for residents to contribute one-third of their incomes.

Puzzoli said she has tried to select art with local appeal to donate to the YWCA. She said Clendenin, who is a tenured professor at West Virginia State University, is one of the most well-known, established artists in town.

 

"I just think it would be incredibly bad karma not to give back," Puzzoli explained, saying good deeds are just the rent people pay for living good lives. "The Y is not a huge, multi-legged creature.

"It's individuals helping individuals, not some big corporation; they're a hands-on, in the trenches community organization."

But Weinstein says the donations of art create opportunities.

"The big picture is this donation of art supports the YWCA's mission of eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all, and that's pretty powerful," she said.

Weinstein said the philosophy of teaching program participants self sufficiency goes along with the business model the YWCA envisioned when it came to town.

"There were no shops like this on Charleston's East End, and we didn't want to be going out door to door and always asking for cash," she said. "So we're walking the walk we're teaching our clients – figure out how to innovatively care for yourself."

Weinstein said the YWCA will soon get an accurate appraisal for the Baskerville painting, which could be worth more than $1,000.

"We don't want to under-sell these beautiful pieces of art," she said.

The YWCA's service area includes Kanawha, Boone and Clay counties, and 2nd seating offers free pickup of donations throughout the Kanawha Valley.