Guest Post: Meet The V.I.P. Committee

Laura Carter_spare parts guest blogger
Laura Carter, Communications Director Providence Catholic School

If you were to ask me why the spare parts inaugural fundraiser–V.I.P. (Very Important Party)–is the ‘must attend’ party of the year, I would have to say it has a great deal to do with the event committee. Each committee member is working with great enthusiasm to create an event which will be fun, educational and inspiring! This diverse group has a common passion that drives them to contribute time, energy and funds, to support Ms. Cantu and spare parts. So, without further ado, may I introduce some of our V.I.P. committee:

Carla Berryman: Fourth grade teacher at St. Paul Catholic School, wife and mother of two boys Gunner 19 and Logan 22.
“I got involved with spare parts out of a necessity to find cheap/free supplies for my classroom as well as school. My room has become the “wal-mart” of the school. Teachers seek me out first for supplies before going anywhere else. I believe that the spare parts motto of our Art Club: “All we have is All we need,” is something we should take very seriously. I have also been involved with spare parts long enough to see materials cycle back around. I find that really super cool!”

Giovanna Carrola: Artist/photographer, Art Educator at Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children, mom to two AwEsoMe! teenage daughters and married to Frank.
“I became involved with Mary Cantu and spare parts when I responded to a request for volunteers to help them move from one location to another (after the first teacher giveaway). I have been around since! I offered to help spare parts because it is an organization which I believe in. The mission to reduce/reuse/recycle is important to me, not only as an art teacher, but also as a parent and person on this earth! I am so proud of Mary Cantu and her efforts in this movement…she is on to something B I G!!”

V.I.P. committee members: Diane Dixon, Shirlene Harris, David Frank, Jennifer Herrera & Kelly Schaub
V.I.P. committee members: Diana Dixon, Shirlene Harris, David Frank, Jennifer Herrera & Kelly Schaub

Laura Carter: Day job-Communication Director Providence Catholic School. Otherwise engaged as nonprofit advocate and blogger. Married to Richard Irons, Pastry Professional, mother and grandmother.
“I became involved with spare parts because I see it as a combination of essential elements I believe very important to our community–education, art and environment. Mary is doing an amazing job with growing the program’s outreach. I enjoy the mix of people and ideas, and learning how to be a reuse crafter–a real stretch for me!”

Diana Dixon: Advertising Design student at the International Academy of Design & Technology (IADT).
“I was a student of Mary’s and found out about spare parts during my classes with her. This term, I chose a hands-on project with spare parts for my project management class. I fell in love with the organization, and am now volunteering for spare parts for more than just a grade in school. I love that spare parts has an annual giveaway where teachers get materials for free to use in their classrooms–materials that they would otherwise have to pay for out of pocket since so many school budgets for the arts have been cut.”

Samantha G. Guerra: Admin Assistant in Bexar Co. Probate Court 2, face painter, blessed to be “Mom” to two beautiful teenage girls and “Wife/Friend” for 25 years to a really great guy.
“My involvement with spare parts is very new and quite fortuitous. I believe a life without art, imagination, giving and caring is lacking. Mary’s vision and mission reflect these important life components and enriches all who are fortunate to participate with and benefit from spare parts.”

V.I.P. committee members: Pak Leung Lai, Lorena Alvarez, Dezarre Boone, Giovanna Carrola, Sarah Dunckel & Deborah Mireles
V.I.P. committee members: Pak Leung Lai, Lorena Alvarez, Dezarre Boone, Giovanna Carrola, Sarah Dunckel & Deborah Foster-Mireles

Deborah Foster-Mireles: Day job-Accounting Tech II at Baptist Child & Family Services.
“I became involved with spare parts in September of this year through my daughter (who is a student at IADT) which is assisting with spare parts projects. I find spare parts to be a great and exciting organization working toward improving our community and it’s environment by its reuse practices, teachings and sharing. Everyone works very well together sharing their thoughts and ideas. Way to go Team, Keep up the great work!”

David B. Frank: Social entrepreneur, media and marketing creative, arts education advocate, dedicated father and friend. Founder of ArtGives.Org and Say It With Photos, LLC.
“I was fortunate enough to have met Mary Cantu when spare parts was first born. Mary has the passion, vision, dedication and determination necessary to develop spare parts into a strong community resource. ArtGives.Org and our team of media and marketing partners will continue to provide support for spare parts because their programs are important to the well-being of the entire community.”

Jennifer Herrera: KLRN Community & Media Engagement Manager.
“I enjoy volunteering with nonprofit organizations such as Gemini Ink. Through the power of social media, I followed Mary Elizabeth and discovered spare parts. Mary’s passion and drive led me to become involved in the group, while also learning about being more resourceful with everyday materials.”

Lori Schnedler: Works in the finance department for the Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency in downtown San Antonio.
“I also help to coordinate our hotels’ Green Teams and environmental programs. I was looking for a green project to do with the children of our associates at our annual holiday party, and after searching the internet, I found Mary and spare parts. I immediately felt connected to her purpose and mission and I quickly became a supporter. I am committed to helping in whatever way I can to further her efforts and grow her organization into the success I know it can be!”

V.I.P. committee members: Marty Taglauer,  Lori Schnedler, Jeanne Cantu, Laura Carter & Samantha Guerra
V.I.P. committee members: Marty Taglauer, Lori Schnedler, Jeanne Cantu, Laura Carter & Samantha Guerra

Jeanne Cantu: A retired educator who is a firm believer in reusing which leads to saving money and reducing landfill waste.
“Classroom teachers spend so much of their own money to provide resources for their students’ projects. Spare parts offers teachers a way to acquire materials for free. Jeanne is the daughter of who she believes is the original ‘reuser queen.’ My 96 year old mother has practically zero waste. Reusing is possible and necessary for us all.”

Guest Post: Interview with Lorena Alvarez, Inventory Specialist

Pak Lai, spare parts Intern
Pak Leung Lai, spare parts Intern

Lorena Alvarez joined the spare parts team over the summer as Inventory Specialist. This was the first time we actively tracked the type of each donation. This is critical to the formation of a creative reuse program. One of the most rewarding part of this addition to our materials & supplies giveaways was the production of a lesson plan resource for PreK-12 grade teachers filled with over 20 activity ideas incorporating materials we had in bulk from the abundance of donations. This resource was sent to registered teachers in advance of the materials & supplies giveaway.

Alvarez graduated from Cornell University in 2008 with a B.A. focused in Fiber Science Apparel Design-Merchandising & Management. She has over 5 years retail experience & currently teaches at the International Academy of Design & Technology.

Alvarez eventually wants to move out of Texas & go back to work in the fashion industry as a planner/allocator/distribution specialist but she’s having fun doing sourcing & supply chain management stuff for her friends at Kalliope Kids.

Pak:  How was your experience working with spare parts?

Lorena: I loved it! This is an organization I really want to be a part of. I never worked with a “green” organization of reduce, reuse & creativity. It’s about the arts. I always wanted to be a part of the arts community. It was a fun & awesome experience.

spare parts interns Pak (left) & Annie (right) taking inventory of materials & supplies donations. June, 2013 at St. Paul Gym.
spare parts interns Pak (left) & Annie (right) taking inventory of materials & supplies donations. June, 2013 at St. Paul Gym.

Pak: What was your role in helping spare parts?

Lorena: I talked to Mary & she informed me that spare parts was overwhelmed with the whole process of materials storage at St. Paul Catholic School, moving it all to Wonderland of the Americas for the Annual Materials Giveaway & then another relocation at the end of the event. I realized the organization needed an inventory system to help keep track of all the donations. There was no inventory system in place so I created one for spare parts. It helped & is a work in progress that I’m sure will be improved again throughout the year. I’m working on a cheap or free, easy way to organize the data. Excel is the program that I’ve been looking into using since it’s commonly used & not too costly. We’re also thinking of using iPhone or iPad apps for inventory management with bar codes or QR codes.

Pak & Lorena taking a break from inventory. June, 2013
Pak & Lorena taking a break from inventory. June, 2013 at St. Paul Gym.

Pak: Did all the materials find a new home, or were there leftovers?

Lorena: There were materials leftover that were put into storage. spare parts will definitely benefit from an inventory tracking system to better plan & prepare for the Materials Giveaway next year. The organization needs a method to track the material donations being received, & that data analyzed against what teachers need the most from the four categories of materials (art supplies, raw materials, office supplies & miscellaneous). Knowing how much we have & what teachers need or want will help with deciding how many teachers we can accommodate to reduce the amount of left-over materials at the end of the event.

Pak: What do you think spare parts should do next?

Lorena: Contributions to spare parts are tax deductible thanks to Fractured Atlas & at this point can greatly benefit from individual donations & other funding sources. If we can track the data of materials coming in we’ll be able to show the community & potential donors how much would-be-trash is being kept out of landfills. Sharing that information will help spare parts acquire grants & inspire donors to give financially so that spare parts can become a full-time organization, helping teachers & the community year-round–not just one time per year.

I think spare parts also needs to do a little advertising leading up to the giveaway so that teachers can keep it in mind when making their lists of what they need & want for the upcoming school year. Just like with “Black Friday” shopping, teachers can prepare for the giveaway by clipping images & ads of materials they want from catalogues & flyers that they can bring with them to see if spare parts has those items at the giveaway, for example. By getting items from the giveaway they can save their hard-earned money since school districts’ art supply budgets can change from year to year.