It’s not just designer-quality bags from recycled and reclaimed fabrics that are being stitched together at Unshattered in Hopewell Junction. Women’s lives are being rebuilt after the ravages of drug addiction.
Unshattered, the 2019 recipient of the Innovation in Philanthropy Award from the Mid-Hudson Valley Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, “paves the road between sobriety and long-term success” for women who have completed a year-long recovery program and 10-week apprenticeship, says Kelly Lyndgaard, CEO of the nonprofit she founded in 2016.
“Working at Unshattered means not having to go back to where I always got into trouble and gives me an opportunity for a successful life,” says Amanda, 36, a former heroin addict who has been promoted twice in 18 months. She is the creative lead and production manager at the boutique studio featuring a bay of sewing machines in the back room and a team of 11 women.
Unshattered also provides weekly sessions in life skills such as budgeting, healthy eating, and leadership. Of the women currently employed, not one has relapsed, notes Lyndgaard.
“These ‘ambassadors of possibility’ — a customer once called them that —show us that real recovery is attainable. Owning their past choices, they freely share their stories so others see how far they’ve come,” she adds.
A Hopewell resident and former engineer, Lyndgaard’s perspective and life path were altered after hearing a recovered addict speak at her church. “I was personally judgmental about addiction until I met a woman who was struggling. These women have survived unimaginable pain and trauma all their lives.”
Inspired, Lyndgaard volunteered at Hoving Home, a residential drug rehab in Garrison, teaching sewing and assisting with fundraising. Having learned to sew from her mother, Lyndgaard says she turned her grandfather’s suede jacket — “too big and ripped, but I wanted to keep it” — into a tote bag after he died.
And today, the women of Unshattered can also custom-stitch “your memories” — uniforms or family heirlooms — “into something new and beautiful for you to enjoy,” says Lyndgaard.
The handbags sewn at Unshattered are sold on its website, www.unshattered.org, and at select retailers in Orange and Dutchess counties.
Lyndgaard says plans to purchase a new local property are in the works, which “will allow us to more than double our work space and help more women win their battle against addiction.”