Once home to a cabinet shop, the building at 12 Dibbrell St. in North Rome houses old lamps, recovered windows, discarded ceiling fans and some determination.
The space and materials inside it are used by the volunteers with the DIGS Inc. garden arts program, a special part of the local nonprofit that provides opportunities for adults with developmental challenges to create pieces of art to display in yards.
“This is a fundraiser for us,” said DIGS Executive Director Barbara Monday, who added that they exchange the works for donations. “We take junk and turn it into beautiful garden art.”
Recently, the group found itself in need of a new place to use as a workshop.
Monday said they had a classroom in the old Johnson Elementary School building on Morrison Campground Road.
When Floyd County Schools decided to move the Floyd County Education Center out of the building and no longer had any programs there, the garden arts group looked for another option.
Rome City Commissioner Buzz Wachsteter worked with Monday to allow them to use the building behind the North Rome Swim Center.
City Manager Sammy Rich said the city has owned the building for a few years. The owner decided to sell it to the city since it owned the swim center and East View Cemetery across the street.
“One thing we thought of was, we were purchasing a piece of property that was in a key spot,” Rich said. “We thought we could use it in case we ever needed extra storage space. But I think this was a great thing to help out with.”
The City Commission approved an agreement at its meeting this week that gives DIGS a 12-month lease on the building for $10 a month.
“The support of the community has been so great,” Monday said. “To us, this is a good work opportunity for the people we help. They use tools, learn organization and how to work as a team.”
Volunteers make items like wind chimes, sun catchers, and candleholders, and turn old windows, shutters and bedposts into art pieces.
Monday said they get donations of materials from the Exchange Club of Rome, the Rome Area Council for the Arts and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
“Sometimes we get people to come in with ideas and bring all the materials to do it,” Monday said.
She said if anyone has anything they would like to donate, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Things made by the group are available at The Last Stop Gift Shop at the Rome-Floyd Visitor Center on Jackson Hill, and they bring them to various arts and crafts festivals in the area.