CODI News – Cara Runkle, Part 2

This is a photo of Cara Runkle in her home.

This is a photo of Scott Cronick of the Press of Atlantic City

Listen to Cara's Radio Interview with Scott Cronick from WOND AM Radio on January 6, 2015
Cara Runkle is currently a Residential Team Leader at Career Opportunity Development, Inc. (CODI) in Egg Harbor City, NJ and recently celebrated her 5th anniversary at CODI.  During her time here, she has worked with various levels of consumers with mental disabilities and substance use disorders.  
Cara is a true 'people-person'.  Each of the career goals she set for herself, Make-Up Artist, Flight Attendant, and Social Worker involve person-to-person interaction. Though they may sound as different as night and day, they all have a common thread - helping others. 
Cara first heard about CODI while taking a class to become a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor when a  trainer came to class and gave her the direction she was looking for. That trainer was our own, Linda Carney, President and CEO of CODI.  Cara was so inspired that before she left that day, she told Linda, "Remember my face. I'm going to work for you."  And when she saw an employment ad for CODI in the paper, she applied and hasn't looked back since. 
We are fortunate to have Cara is with us and below you will find out more about her contagious enthusiasm.  Please read on...... 

Tossed and found: Trash becomes two South Jerseyans’ home treasures

 Sunday, January 4, 2015 9:45 am - The Press of Atlantic City
By CINDY NEVITT Staff Writer
One man's trash is another man's treasure. It's a well-loved phrase that's circulated through the ages. But for two South Jersey women, they've learned to live the adage.
Cara Runkle, of Ocean City, and Avalon's Martha Wright have enveloped themselves in environments where old means antique and chips in the paint are evidence of character. Throughout the years, Runkle and Wright have collected previously owned furnishings they believe make their houses homes.
Both women shun the idea of needing to buy brand-new furniture, home accessories, even clothes if they can help it. Their decorating style, they agree independently, is the ultimate form of recycling.
Runkle: Battered, bruised is still good
About every weekend, Runkle goes alley shopping.  This is a photo of Cara Runkle's re-purposed piggy
She'll scope the sidewalks and buffers between houses where garbage cans collect, biking or driving around in her Honda, to see what deals she can drum up. And by deals, she's looking for what people have discarded and put out on the curb.
She said she's been able to furnish her 100-year-old apartment on Pleasure Avenue - "how could you not love living on Pleasure Avenue" - all with items she's picked up within a 10-block radius in the 20 years she's lived in the apartment.
She said she can't help herself: Runkle is a social worker at Career Opportunity Development Inc. in Egg Harbor City. Every day, she said she is charged to help individuals and families who are "battered, bruised and disenfranchised" in one way or another.
"I always root for the underdog. People throw away their things, they throw away people. ... I try to teach my clients that they can bounce back."
Take Sandy. Sandy isn't one of Runkle's clients, but an ornately painted ceramic pig she's taken into her home.
He was abandoned after Hurricane Sandy devastated the coast. The storm weathered paint covering his back, exposing a brick-red shell. Sandy's previous owners kicked him to the curb, which is where Runkle found him.
Pointing to other items in the home, she had the same response for their origin. The love seat? Trash. Wood cabinetry in her kitchen? Trash. The clock above her kitchen sink eternally pointing to 5 o'clock? Trash. Pillows decorating a folding bench in the living room? Both trash (though she washed the pillows first).
On her bedroom door, Runkle hung a trash-picked sign, "Antiques & Old Stuff." It explains everything, she said.
After a while, when she decides to change up her environment, Runkle will reluctantly put items out on the curb, to let it recirculate among other alley shoppers.
"I get a little hurt, you know, when I let things go," she admitted. "I think, 'Aww, I did love that. Maybe I can take it back.' But (if someone takes it) it means somebody else loves it."
Wright: New house, old soul
The exposed wood and whitewashed furnishings of Wright's house have a definite, deliberate beachy feel to them.
Wright's parents, who owned an antique shop in Cherry Hill, raised her in a home built in the 18th century. The desire to live in an old house pursued her even when she decided to root in Avalon near the bay.
She wrote letters to the owners of about 25 homes from Avalon to Stone Harbor, asking if they would consider selling to her. They all refused, and she submitted to constructing her own barn-style home on Seventh Avenue. At 15-years-old, Wright's home is younger than most of the possessions it houses.
Push back the (actual, antique) wooden barn door Wright once loaded in her previous car, a 1994 Toyota Supra, and you'll see the bathroom. She loves the 1920s bathtub and a vintage sink - with modern fixtures styled to the same decade.
Her kitchen was cherry-picked from nature, literally. The white sink was discarded in a field. In a snow drift, she found her 1930s gas range and paid the property owner $50 for it. Her General Electric ice box, well, she got it off a pickup truck. While the would-have-been owners were still driving, she hailed the truck down. She got it for $250.
It's not the only time she's persuaded someone who thought they got a free deal on a piece of furniture out of their find, Wright said. She chased a car down driving in Stone Harbor with a vintage blue chair in the truck's cab. That chair is now part of the guest room decor.
"My head is on a swivel. A lot of people have said they don't like driving with me because I never go in a straight line," she said. "People tell me I have eyes in the back of my head when I'm at yard sales."
If the items are not true antiques, Wright said, she strives to get re-creations accurate to a time period. She's partial to the 1920s through '50s, when furniture was made of stronger stuff than the plywood pieces sold in some department stores with some assembly required.
"We live in a dispensable society," she said. "But when you're buying secondhand furniture, it's still solid wood. It's about craftsmanship."
The house is not a well-kept secret, either. Wright's home, along with a handful of others, have been featured in the Avalon Historical Society's annual Olde House Tour, which puts a spotlight on some of the antique homes in the borough.
"Everything (in my home) has character, everything has a story," she said.
Contact Sara Tracey:
Cara Runkle has scavenged most items in her household from yard sales and sidewalk curbs. Here are some of those decorations in her Ocean City living room.
2 The window and flowers Runkle took, separately, from piles of trash last year.
1 This orange pig, Runkle named Sandy, was recovered from the wreckage his namesake hurricane caused in 2012.
7 Runkle said she took this table from the trash.
3 The pillows were washed and placed in this folding bench after Runkle got it from the trash.
5This green table was another trash pick by Runkle.
6The mirror, glass beads, jelly jar and table were all separate trash finds.
4 Runkle acquired this entertainment desk after neighbors a few houses down moved.