"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Every day is an inspiration

By on January 27, 2020 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments
Jennifer Curtin is happy to lead customers in adventures at her cafe.

By Jaana Hatton

The little yellow house at 400 Ninth Street in Wenatchee is like sunshine even on the outside. 

Once you step inside, the feeling remains as you are likely to meet the owner, Jennifer Curtin, greeting you with a bright smile.

The cozy, home-like Inspirations Ceramic & Art Café is where customers can create ceramic pieces of their own liking. Maybe a new coffee mug or a platter for appetizers? Or how about trying out fused glass — the results can be amazing.

“I never thought of myself as a creative person,” Jennifer said, “but I keep finding new ideas to share.”

There is something she does not easily share: memories of her near-fatal accident 10 years ago. 

The night of the horrific event on Dec. 9, 2009 was as dark as winter gets when Jennifer was crossing Grant Road with three of her friends. There were no lights, no crosswalk, at the spot. 

Three cars had stopped to allow them to get onto the other side – the fourth one did not. It hit Jennifer, who was the last one in the group, and sent her flying into the air and then landing on top of the hood of the car. The driver slammed on his breaks, causing Jennifer to crash onto the road. 

Currently the location on Grant Road, by the community park, is easily identifiable with the crosswalk and lights that provide safety to pedestrians.

She was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center and into emergency surgery to deal with the epidural hematomas the collision had caused. In the meantime, her parents and brother were making the long drive in the night over Blewett Pass to be by Jennifer’s side. 

“(The drive over) felt like an eternity,” Jennifer’s mother, Becky, said.

They had another eternity ahead of them as they waited for Jennifer to be woken up from the medically induced come which lasted for six days. She was transferred to Seattle Children’s Hospital for speech and physical therapy — Jennifer had to learn to do things all over again due to the brain trauma.

On Christmas Eve, she was released from the hospital. To say she recovered does not mean she was back to normal — and still isn’t. The headaches, stabbing chest pains, scoliosis, the crooked right knee and other aches and pains accompany her every day. But, she smiles easily, despite it all.

“We celebrate my survival every year by going to Leavenworth on Dec. 9, just because it’s one of my favorite places,” Jennifer explained.

At the time of the accident she was 14 years old. While most of her classmates were supportive afterwards, there were those who made mean remarks about “the girl who got hit by a car.” She found it hard to smile through such hurtful words.

After graduation Jennifer continued her studies at Wenatchee Valley College and worked part-time at the newly-opened Inspirations Ceramic Art & Café.

“I liked the place right away” Jennifer recalled. “There was nothing like it in Wenatchee at the time, but it felt comfortable to me.”

She soon found herself not just liking, but in love with the art studio. It inspired Jennifer to focus her studies on business and to think in terms of applying the college skills at the café.

Her friend, Nicole, worked at the studio and had initially asked Jennifer to come and help on a part-time basis. One thing led to another, and Jennifer ended up dropping her studies and running the art café together with Nicole.

“I did the social media and marketing. I just loved the business,” Jennifer said.

One thing she did not love was driving, and driving on Grant Road especially. The bad memories of the accident haunted her. They are on the back of her mind to this day. She did start driving after she started working at the café fulltime, though. 

“Some words just trigger those memories, like ‘accident’ or ‘injury’,” Jennifer said.

She often wakes up to a headache or other severe pain, but it doesn’t stop her from going to the café, to a job she loves. There are people to teach, items to order, designs to plan. Those are the good things that balance out the bad ones.

One of the best things so far in her 24-year life is becoming the owner of the Inspirations Café. It happened a year ago, on Dec. 15.

“It seems that 15 is my number,” Jennifer said. “I woke up from the coma on December 15, became the owner of the inspirations café on December 15 and there is a family event that also took place on the 15th.” 

Not only does Jennifer run the business but also participates in the community; such as the annual Empty Bowls event. The Inspirations Café orders the supplies and fires the painted bowls afterwards so the soup evening in March can be a success.

If you go visit the Inspirations Café, take friends and have a great time. Give Jennifer a hug, for she may be having the worst headache day despite her sunny smile. 

Jaana Hatton is a Wenatchee resident, a soul of the outdoors, the arts and people of all walks of life. She believes in talking to strangers and looking past outward appearances. Many wonderful stories await there.

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