Person of the Week
Mariola Piecuch Combines Love of Animals and Art to Give Back to Animal Shelter
Mariola Piecuch is using her hobby to give back locally, creating paw print keychains to benefit the East Haven Animal Shelter. (Photo courtesy of Mariola Piecuch)
Like many people one year ago, Mariola Piecuch temporarily lost her job and found herself with more time on her hands and looking for a way to fill it during the initial COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. She has always enjoyed exploring different crafts and hobbies and came across resin epoxy art.
“I’ve always loved making things and doing new things with crafts and just loved resining when I discovered it,” says Mariola. “I bought some molds and came up with different ideas.”
As Mariola’s passion for her newfound craft grew, she decided to open an Etsy shop, JustHappyHobbies, to sell her creations of coasters, keychains, light-up decor, and more. While she was excited to be able to sell her pieces, she wanted to do more for the community.
Mariola came across a dog print mold and thought it was “the cutest thing I ever saw.” She decided to use the mold to create keychains and sell them to benefit the East Haven Animal Shelter. For every keychain sold at $10, Mariola is donating $5 to the shelter. Her fundraiser is continuing through the end of March and she has raised nearly $200 so far.
“With the shutdown, I was getting sad and depressed and I wanted to do something to help the community,” says Mariola. “I don’t have money to put out, so I put in the work making the paw print keychains so I can donate to the local shelter.”
Once she had the idea, Mariola reached out to the shelter, where they were excited to share her fundraiser. Mariola also promoted it through her Etsy shop and local Facebook groups, including The Good Things About East Haven. Mariola is grateful for the support of Steve DeLucia, one of the administrators of the group, who has helped allow her to spread the word.
Mariola was happy to return to her job as a medical secretary at Southern New England Ear, Nose, and Throat in May, noting that her coworkers have also been supportive of her fundraiser. Despite the challenges of COVID, she enjoys her job.
“It has definitely had stressful moments with the extra precautions we have to take now and making sure everything is clean, but I love my job,” says Mariola. “Even though we are in the middle of a pandemic, I have fun working there and love being in the field.”
Growing up in East Haven and graduating from East Haven High School in 2006, Mariola had never planned on working in the healthcare field. She worked for the Knights of Columbus for seven years before being laid off. After applying many different jobs, she found the position at Southern New England Ear, Nose, and Throat two years ago.
Though she enjoys her job, she says her dream is to build her art into her full-time career. Mariola has found that working on her resin projects is a perfect way to relax at the end of a stressful day.
“It’s almost like meditation for me when I do the resin,” says Mariola. “My favorite thing to do is play ‘80s music, have a glass of wine, and meditate while I do resining. The next morning, I feel accomplished, happy, and excited when I pop it out of the mold. Having the Etsy shop is nice because I can do what I love without filling my whole house with my projects.”
Mariola lives with her boyfriend, Michael Burris. She is thankful to him and her close friends who have not only supported her efforts with her art, but throughout the challenges of the last year.
Over the past several months, Mariola has had to lean on Burris and her friends more than ever as she has experienced a trio of losses. In December, Mariola’s grandmother and uncle, both of whom lived in Poland, passed away within days of each other. Then in early 2021, she lost her father to cancer.
“My family has taken such a hard hit in the past few months,” says Mariola. “My boyfriend and my friends have really been there for me and are always checking to see if I’m okay and making sure I know they’re there if I need to talk. Right now I am finding strength by focusing on my job, resining, and growing to be a better person. The goal is to be the best person I can be in this lifetime.”
While Mariola’s family is from Poland, she was born in America and considers East Haven home. She enjoyed growing up in town and becoming part of the community. Her favorite part about the town is seeing how people come together in a time of need and work together for common goals.
Mariola has seen the community come together firsthand as it has supported her fundraiser for the animal shelter. She is happy to have a part in doing something to give back to the community. While the fundraiser for the animal shelter concludes at the end of March, she’s already thinking about the next way she could give back.
“I’ve always struggled financially and worried about making ends meet, but I’ve been a survivor and as a survivor, you become empathetic to other people and want to help out,” says Mariola. “Though I never had the means to help financially, I realized I could give back in this way.
“I started this fundraiser to be of help in this difficult time,” adds Mariola. “This is from my heart— my love for animals and my art combined to create a keychain to help the East Haven Animal Shelter.”
The keychains are $10 each. With every purchase, $5 is being donated to the East Haven Animal Shelter. To make a purchase, visit JustHappyHobbies on etsy.com.
Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .