YouthBuild Rockford call to artists

YouthBuild Rockford will provide the medium if you will provide your creative possibilities. Available to local artisans are pieces of the more than 200-year-old oak tree that fell in Sinnissippi Garden during the big storm of July 2003. YouthBuild is looking for people to turn these into art that could first be displayed for all to see, and then either auctioned or raffled to help raise funds to support the YouthBuild program.

“I’m not an artist myself,” said Kerry Knodle, executive director of Comprehensive Community Solutions, the organization which includes YouthBuild as one of its programs, “but I would think for those who are, the opportunity to create something using a piece of history would be very appealing.” Knodle added that the organization hopes to see many different types of artwork created from the piece such as sculpture, mixed media, perhaps even beaded work. Artists and craftsmen who are interested in obtaining a piece and making this artistic contribution to YouthBuild should contact Knodle at 963-6236. Because of the sentimental value, those wishing to create a piece will be asked to sign a form agreeing that they will return the completed artwork. Knodle says this is to prevent the loss of the pieces of the tree to people who don’t truly intend to finish an art piece.

Thanks to the Rockford Park District’s generous donation of the downed tree following the storm, YouthBuild has turned other pieces of the tree into paperweights, which are being sold throughout the community, allowing people to have a piece of that history to cherish as well as make a donation to the YouthBuild organization.

In its ninth year, YouthBuild Rockford works with unemployed high school dropouts, 16-24 years of age, to develop working job skills in the construction or computer trades. Students also receive training in life skills, employability, leadership development and community service. Students attend classes full time for 11 months, and are placed in jobs or post-secondary education after graduation. For more information, visit

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