Business

Usful Glassworks extends fundraising push, seeks more than $200K of donations

As of 2011, when this photo was taken, the organization now known as Usful Glassworks kept 30,000 wine, beer and liquor bottles out of the landfill and turned them into other items. Jennifer Logan polished the inside rim of drinking glasses made from used wine bottles.
As of 2011, when this photo was taken, the organization now known as Usful Glassworks kept 30,000 wine, beer and liquor bottles out of the landfill and turned them into other items. Jennifer Logan polished the inside rim of drinking glasses made from used wine bottles. Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

A Boise nonprofit that repurposes old wine bottles — providing job skills to refugees, the homeless and others — will decide next month whether to shut down or attempt to join another organization.

Usful Glassworks sought to raise almost $250,000 by the end of this week. If the effort fell short, Executive Director Carlyn Blake said Tuesday, the nonprofit would have to shut down or seek another organization willing to take it over.

But Usful’s board of directors met Thursday and voted to extend the fundraising campaign through May 4, the end of the annual Idaho Gives fundraising drive. The board will then revisit Usful’s future.

Usful (pronounced “useful”) launched its “All In Crusade” fundraiser in March. It had raised about $18,000 of its $250,000 goal as of Friday.

“I am sure that we won’t have enough money to look and feel and operate the same way we are today,” Blake said Friday. “Barring a miracle ... maybe a super rich foundation takes pity on us and issues a $200,000 check, [but] I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

The organization started seven years ago, training hundreds of people to create drinking glasses and other items from used glass bottles. Usful has 15 to 20 job-training participants now. Its paid staff includes former job-training participants.

The company runs on a shoestring budget, has only three full-time employees and one part-time employee and is unable to sustain itself at this rate, Blake said. Donations to Usful were to be a “one-time influx of money” to hire employees to take some work off Blake’s hands so she can spend more time fundraising.

If the nonprofit must close its doors, the “All In Crusade” donations will be used to pay creditors and give employees a severance payment, Blake said.

To donate, visit gofundme.com/usfulglass.

Audrey Dutton: 208-377-6448, @audreydutton

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