Jubilation Creations, an organization operated by Haddon Avenue shop Jubili Beads & Yarns, has teamed up with local restaurant The Tortilla Press to support arts initiatives for special needs individuals.
On Monday, Dec. 12, those who dine at The Tortilla Press from 4 to 9 p.m. will have a percentage of their bill donated to Jubilation Creations initiatives.
Jubilation Creations is a nonprofit organization headed by Jubili Beads & Yarns Owner Dr. Judith K. Weinstein, 58, of Mount Laurel.
Weinstein created the outreach to afford disabled individuals the opportunity to experience healing through the arts—something she knows about personally.
After practicing invasive-procedure radiology for 10 years, the heavy doctor's equipment Weinstein wore while practicing caused her own disability to appear.
"I didn't leave my profession by choice. I felt the pain coming on little by little," Weinstein said of feeling repercussions. "The pain was getting so bad, I could hardly bear the feel of wearing clothes, it was so painful."
Something was wrong, but it took six separate doctors—each offering no reason for Weinstein's ailments—to find a physician who knew how to help her.
"Here I was, a physician myself. And after you see five doctors with no answers, you start to really think you may be crazy, that you're imagining the pain," she said.
"When I finally met the doctor who helped me, he stopped me as soon as I told him about the lead aprons. He rattled off about 10 symptoms I'd been having, and asked me if he was right. I just started crying, I couldn't believe I'd finally found him. I wasn't crazy, the pain I felt actually existed."
Nerve damage from bearing years' worth of excessive weight had resulted in Weinstein's reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). The RSD brought with it a life-changing treatment plan—her life would continue with physical therapy and treatment. But she could not practice as physician again.
During therapy, Weinstein was also diagnosed with superimposed fibromyalgia, and experienced all kinds of muscle atrophy. She could hardly use her hands effectively. Severe shaking and pain were daily occurrences.
"About my fourth year out of work, I was still grieving, I was miserable," she said. "When you lose everything you've worked so hard to create in life, you have to take a different angle. I asked myself, 'What haven't I done, where can I go from here?'"
Weinstein had not yet been a mother. One year later, in 2000, Weinstein and her husband adopted their daughter Lilia from Russia.
"When Lilia came home, I'd been doing physical therapy and my range of motion was much better. The (use of my) hands eventually started coming back," she said. "I remembered my first medium—knitting. My mother had taught me to knit when I was 8 years old, and it's always been my favorite craft."
Weinstein went to a craft store and admired some fabulous new yarns that had come out. She saw a few bags of cheap, multi-colored and -sized beads.
"It was instantaneous. I thought, 'Oh, beads with these yarns would be spectacular.' I didn't realize it at the time, but I'd basically come up with the idea of mixed media," said Weinstein of mixing different arts and crafts mediums into a single project."
Soon after, Weinstein had started a mixed media club of 10-or-so women, who met in her basement to craft together. Weinstein smiles, recalling the day she named her group, the Bead And Fiber Guild of South Jersey.
And so Weinstein's new life began.
She officially opened Jubili Beads & Yarns in Collingswood on June 21, 2003.
People began coming into the shop and telling Weinstein how much Jubili's classes and accessibility to crafting had inspired them. Alcoholics learned to leave their addictions alone, choosing instead to fuel their creative outlets.
"I knew this shop had been powerfully healing for me, in my own life struggles, but it suddenly dawned on me that it could be powerfully healing for other people, too.
"I also knew what it was like to be disabled, and how crafts helped me through," she said. "And then the universe came to me, just dropped the answer in my lap. I got a coupon in the mail for an accountant's services. He came to the store, and suggested I try to gain 501(c)3, nonprofit status."
A series of good contacts later, Weinstein was bringing disabled individuals into the store to help out and take classes. An arts and crafts community for the disabled was born.
This past fall, in October 2010, Weinstein was granted nonprofit status.
"I had to think of a name for the organization, and Jubilation Creations popped into my head. It's a twist on Jubili, and it evokes feelings of being joyous," she said.
Today, Weinstein said, a total of 15 disabled and special needs individuals make Jubili Beads & Yarns their second home every week. Some come from state-run programs, others from group homes.
And subconsciously, Weinstein has incorporated her background in the medical field into Jubili. Occupational therapists have partnered with Jubili to oversee the progress of Jubili's disabled community.
"The word is spreading. Disabled students who could not speak full sentences have found a passion here, and are speaking to teachers and caretakers. We've displayed their work in the shop during a gala event. People are finding a new outlet, a new reason for living," said Weinstein, nodding at the similarity to her own path. "It's been absolutely wonderful."
Diners should tell their waiter or waitress that they are dining in support of Jubilation Creations.