The question that Susan says changed it all for her was when her Employment Specialist and IPS Team Lead, Erica Denmark, asked her to forget about money or any other barriers she could think of- What was her dream job?
Susan replied, “To establish Asheville’s first toy-lending library and play center.” Her sons benefited from one that she volunteered with while they were growing up in Upstate NY. She dreamed of creating a similar service for her new community in western North Carolina. Once the idea was out in the open, it just had to be realized!
Beginning in January of 2017, Susan and Erica worked together and with other team members to brainstorm and create an action plan. Susan took advantage of free business classes and workshops offered through the AB-
TECH Business Center and Mountain BizWorks. They helped her develop the concept and the right business structure for her.
Although an affordable and accessible location has yet to reveal
itself, the mobile unit DID in April of this year. Susan discovered a mobile unit in Joplin, Missouri stocked with quality educational toys! She followed her heart by purchasing it with savings and had it delivered to Asheville by a tractor trailer. With the interior and toys in pristine condition, Susan focused on necessary mechanical repairs/upgrades while giving it a much needed exterior makeover. This included fifty-one hours of personally removing the original design using a heat gun, viewing “how to” YouTube videos, and reaching out to numerous vehicle painting/repair, RV, and signage businesses for help. With support from these local businesses, her IPS team, and sons (who created the vinyl wrap design), the Toybrary “mint julip” colored bus rolled out of the shop July 19th to the delight and amazement of all!
The Toybrary of Asheville is thrilled to announce our mobile unit will be cruising through our community encouraging us all to unplug and play!
The Toybrary’s soft community introduction and ribbon cutting was August 2018. Since then you can find her at many local festivals and events across Buncombe County.
Currently, the most difficult aspects of her dream is cataloging all the toys, growing her business. She is also continuing to increase her IT skills in order to create a digital inventory of over 300 items that will be linked to the website.
Susan says “the best outcome from this process have been regaining confidence in myself again”. While Susan still experiences difficulty accepting personal limitations due to mental and physical health conditions, she finds it immensely gratifying to see her dream of bettering her community come to fruition.
“I have my RHA support network to thank for this and I want other RHA clients to learn from my story: Play outside the box of possibilities and GO for that dream!”
For more information: www.toybraryavl.com FB@AVLplays 828.367.4614