The Florida Fund of CERF
by Mary Klein, CERF Board member, Florida Craftsmen past-President

It was the year I moved to Florida for good and the year my friend Jim died leaving a hole in the art world and in the hearts of those who knew him. There was no Craft Emergency Relief Fund when he died_CERF was formed later that same year. But CERF could have helped Jim as it has countless other craftspeople by providing interest-free loans, advice, show waivers, supplier discounts and sometimes just a willing ear to share pain. Whatever can be done to help professional craftspeople maintain and get back to work is CERF's goal. Work is how we heal best.

Through the years, many individual guilds and organizations have established funds within CERF to benefit their members. Through a generous donation, we now have started THE FLORIDA FUND; a special fund to help Florida's professional craftspeople who experience emergencies that threaten their livelihood.

Here is how it works: a craftsperson has an emergency that threatens their crafts professional life. That person can apply for a loan or other services from CERF. Each loan application is reviewed by the CERF Loan Committee and recommendations are made. If approved, money may be used from The Florida Fund for a portion of the loan. The more money we have in the Fund, the more people we can help. This does not mean that CERF will use ONLY these funds for Florida applicants. The Florida Fund provides an added measure of insurance and help available to our peers and Florida neighbors. We have the satisfaction of knowing that we are truly helping each other, our fellow craftspeople.
The Craft Emergency Relief Fund approved over $81,000 in emergency and disaster relief assistance to 29 professional craftspeople suffering the effects of various emergencies in 2001. CERF awarded $69,400 in the form of no-interest and low-interest recovery loans, $4,650 in grants, and $7,327 of in-kind supplies and services. Illness, followed by injuries, topped the list of 2001 emergencies. CERF is a national non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide immediate support to professional craftspeople suffereing from career-threatening emergencies.

HOW CAN YOU HELP? Make a donation to CERF for the Florida Fund. Make a donation in memory of someone who could have used CERF's help. Make a donation in honor of someone's birthday who already HAS everything else. Tell people about CERF and explain how CERF helps during times of emergency. Refer others to CERF who need assistance.If you do send a donation, please remember to earmark the money for The Florida Fund. CRAFT MAKES COMMUNITY. Believe it!
Donations may be sent to: The Craft Emergency Relief Fund, P.O. Box 838, Montpelier, VT 05601 802-229-2306. Artists in need are welcome to email [email protected] for guidelines and an application form.