By Hannah Devlin
This summer, the Town of North Hempstead presents free upcycled craft programs for children in the area. Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena and Councilmember Mariann Dalimonte will team up with Melanie Cassens—owner of Cassigns of Port Washington—to host a number of programs throughout the summer. Cassigns is a local business in town that aims to give back to the community by allowing children to express their creativity.
Cassigns began as a hand-painted sign business on Etsy, an online marketplace where people can buy and sell custom-made items. Eventually, Cassens sign business evolved into custom-made pieces of furniture and other crafts that she would make for clients on request.
A year ago, however, Cassens began to host classes for children in town, and although she continues to make signs and other pieces, her main focus is now kid-friendly woodworking and crafting classes. These classes were inspired by the need that Cassens saw for children to have a creative outlet.
“There’s a lot of screentime, there’s a lot of TV time, video games, [and] all that with our kids these days. And it’s just amazing… once you give a kid a fun craft to do, how focused they can be on it,” Cassens said.
“Having young kids myself,” she continued, “I’ve noticed that there are so many people who don’t do crafts with their kids.”
Because so many children are not given crafts at home, Cassens is passionate about providing children with the opportunity to create crafts at her events.
Another inspiration for Cassens’ business was her father, who was very handy. Growing up in town, Cassens watched her father as he gave back to the Port Washington community, and decided that upon opening her business, she would do the same.
“I have a business, but I also just really love this community,” said Cassens, “and things like the Town of North Hempstead crafts coming up and Be the Rainbow [pride festival] – both of those I volunteered for and just really feel like they’re great organizations.”
Earlier this summer, Cassens volunteered at Be the Rainbow’s Pride Walk. At the festival following the walk, Cassigns set up a booth where children could make rainbow bracelets with colorful pipe cleaners and beads. Materials and resources at the booth were donated by both Cassens herself as well as other members of the community in support of the event.
“When I heard about what [Be the Rainbow] was doing, I just felt very inspired…[the booth] was about supporting an organization that I felt was very special for our town,” Cassens explained.
Later this summer, Cassens will set up a booth at the National Night Out in Manhasset, another event where she hopes to give back to her community.
In addition to special events that Cassens takes part in, she also hosts classes throughout the year for children to participate in.
At the Upcycled Summer Crafts events this summer, children 3-10 will have the opportunity to make paper tulips on July 20, canned flower pots on Aug. 3 and object robots on Aug. 17. Classes are free but children must register in advance by calling 311.