RIDGWAY – Second Chance Humane Society is in the business of rescuing and recycling pets. So, it makes sense that the organization’s flagship annual fundraising event, this weekend’s Wine and Whiskers Carnival and Fashion Cabaret, is unveiling an eco-fashion recycling-themed line of clothing.
Among the many looks on the runway at the Ouray County 4-H Event Center this Saturday night will be a collection of eleven “artfits” made out of non-saleable materials.
The collection was created by SCHS’s volunteer recycling coordinator, Tracie Olsen.
“The amazing clothing made out of recycled materials is incredible – and sends a huge message about how absolutely reusable materials are that others would be tossing in the garbage can,” said SCHS Executive Director Kelly Goodin.
Earlier this week, at one of the final rehearsals leading up to the show, Olsen was there with four of her creations: a compostable silk minidress decorated with crackers, tea, soap roses and tinted eggshells; a vintage 50s dress completely plastered in Watch newspapers; a sassy party frock swathed in red “danger” tape; and a slinky black evening gown whose bling came from shiny silver DVDs, costume jewelry and blinking light-up bouncy-balls glued over strategic anatomical locations.
Somehow it all worked. In fact, the results are stunning. The twenty or so models on hand at the rehearsal could hardly take their eyes off of the artfits.
Almost everything about the dresses, from their base layers, which started as stained or otherwise damaged garments that could not be resold, to the many sly embellishments that have rendered them into something fresh and edgy, came straight from the shelves of the Second Chance Thrift Shop in downtown Ridgway.
Before moving to Ridgway in 2008, Olsen worked in many fields including a stint as a probation officer and a sentence in the corporate ranks of AT&T, but never before has she dabbled in fashion design.
She was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in 2004 and given three years to live. But the disease went into remission in 2006. “Something in me clicked and I started living differently and thinking differently,” she said. That included giving herself permission to tap into her creative juices – her mother had been an artist – and figuring out a more sustainable way to live and make a living.
She and her husband Daniel started a company together, Western Slope CCARES, which teaches nonprofits and businesses how to recycle, and how recycling can positively impact the bottom line.
From there, Olsen’s volunteer work with SCHS has taken on a life of its own. Over the past year, she’s initiated a drive to recycle not only the papers, plastics and metals that the thrift store generates, but also the clothes themselves. Donated clothing which is not up-to-snuff for Second Chance’s racks and shelves is given to various ministries which in turn give it away to needy families and individuals as far away as Honduras and Africa.
Stuff that is simply no longer wearable is donated to Heirlooms for Hospice, which sends loads of textiles on a monthly basis to a recycling business in Phoenix, which pays per pound and brings in a modest revenue stream for that organization.
“If it can’t be recycled into something usable, it’s turned into wiping rags for mechanic shops, that sort of thing,” Olsen said. “We make sure absolutely everything is used.”
And, kept out of landfills.
“People donate to thrift shops because they want their stuff to be used,” she said. “We can say without a doubt that every donation is used, one way or another. We generate very, very little trash.”
Wine and Whiskers, Food and Dancing
Second Chance Humane Society hosts its Fifth Annual Wine and Whiskers Carnival this Saturday, March 10 at the Ouray County 4-H Event Center in Ridgway. This Mardi-Gras themed evening includes a live and silent auction stocked with over 300 items, and the sizzling Fashion Cabaret – a roof-raising spectacle featuring 35 models from the community, plus a line of Weehawken Dancers and new this year – a guest line comprised of teachers from Ouray and Ridgway Schools.
Choreographers Susan Aurand, Suzann Geisler, Lindsay Hepp, Michelle Kodis, Kendra Manley, and Natasha Pyeatte have built upon the chill moves of last year’s show, spotlighting local models in a way you’ve never seen before. “This year, get ready for a whole new level of what our local talent can create!” said SCHS Executive Director Kelly Goodin.
Following the Fashion Cabaret, dance into the night to the eclectic tunes of DJ Antone.
The event starts at 5:30 p.m. with complimentary wine and beer for the first hour. Samplers from local chefs throughout San Miguel, Ouray and Montrose Counties typically include New Orleans favorites such as crawfish, gumbo, and decadent bread pudding with bourbon sauce, complimented by the cooking of chef Alix Fremgen, who has been responsible for this being the best “foodie” event of the year for the past four years.
Auction items include vacation packages, adventure packages, a priceless pair of Dennis Weaver’s boots, VIP hockey tickets to the Avalanche, and much more.
Second Chance Humane Society is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization serving San Miguel, Ouray and parts of Montrose counties with animal rescue and animal welfare programs. It operates an animal resource center for homeless pets at its new 52-acre location at Angel Ridge Ranch near Ridgway. Operations are covered in large part from the proceeds of the Second Chance Thrift Shop in Ridgway, as well as the annual Wine and Whiskers event, which last year raised $45,000.
The fundraising goal this year is $50,000, Goodin said.
Tickets for the Fifth Annual Wine and Whiskers Carnival are $40 in advance or $45 at the door and available at the Second Chance Thrift Shop, Telluride Veterinary Clinic, Buckskin Booksellers in Ouray or DaLee Spa in Montrose. Visit adoptmountainpets.org to learn more about Wine and Whiskers or call 626-2273 for further details.