By Justine Smith, New Media/Web Content Coordinator
The green ceramic candy bowl in Jennifer Foy’s office, just one of the dozens of pottery creations she’s produced, is more than just a dish full of sweets.
The bowl helped her build relationships with staff and residents when Foy became administrator of Southfork, a DePaul Senior Living Community in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in January 2013.
“I put the candy dish next to the door and people would peek their head in and ask for a piece, then I slowly moved it into the office,” said Foy. “It helped build relationships.”
The pieces she’s created – veritable works of art – are simply for her own “fun and enjoyment.” Foy is not interested in selling her pottery, but chooses to share her art with others.
Friends and family always know to expect a piece of pottery as a gift for the holidays. At home, Foy maintains a well-stocked pile of bowls and vases, ready to give away.
She’s also spread her passion for pottery to Southfork, gifting penholders to staff and displaying pieces around the building.
Initially, the Oregon native enrolled in pottery classes to de-stress after taking over as the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Montana.
“The pottery classes were a chance to go and get away from work…It was something I always thought would be fun!”
The community extensions classes offered by a local middle school teacher offered a creative outlet and an opportunity to hone her skills.
She started off with small cups and bowls that were “really bad,” according to Foy. “You know the little things that your parents put out on the coffee table for a week just to say they put it out and then they would hide it? I had lots of those!”
With each class and encouragement from her pottery teacher, she began to challenge herself. Small cups transitioned to larger, more complex pieces like vases and decorative canisters with ceramic lids.
Foy continues to take classes at a local studio, and still relishes in the escape that pottery provides:
“It allows me to focus solely on one thing because sometimes it’s hard to get your brain to turn off. If I didn’t focus, the pottery would fly off the wheel and make a big mess.”
Foy strives to enhance residents’ lives and instill a “special” quality into daily activities. Her focus on residents and staff is obvious. “She is the sweetest person you’ll ever meet,” said LaDonna Grimes, Southfork Activities Director. “She bends over backward for anything that anyone needs.”
Grimes’ son, Joshua, a frequent volunteer at Southfork and fellow art aficionado, often chats with Foy about ideas for his own pottery.
So whether she’s wielding a pottery wheel or forging relationships with residents and staff, Foy believes in investing time to create a quality product that will endure and be valued.
Are you a DePaul employee with a hidden talent that you’d like to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we might share your story!