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Bones for Homes

‘doodling’ project grows into art fundraiser

Rachel Johnson, photos by Andrea Paulseth

WISH BONES. Jennifer Hazen’s painted bone creations are sold to raise money to help people experiencing homelessness through a partnership with John DeRosa, below, of Rental Resources.
WISH BONES. Jennifer Hazen’s painted bone creations are sold to raise money to help people experiencing homelessness through a partnership with John DeRosa, below, of Rental Resources.

By creating art and using the proceeds from the sales to aid the homeless, Jennifer Hazen is fusing the best of humanity. A mental health counselor by day and a musician by night, Hazen added artist to her resume last year when she was laid up for a couple of weeks post-surgery. 

Hazen had always loved collecting bones, and sitting on her mantel during recovery was a bone just begging to be painted. “I picked it up one day and I painted it and I loved it,” she said.

Soon her house was filling up with decorative bone art. She put some pictures on Facebook, word got around, and a mutual friend told Jo Ellen Burke of 200 Main Art & Wine in downtown Eau Claire about Hazen’s work. Burke wanted to sell the bones in the gallery. Hazen was delighted.

“This was something I was doing for pleasure. It was never considered it art, I considered it doodling,” Hazen said. “I’m shocked, amazed, and absolutely gratified that a beautiful, high-end art gallery would think they were cool enough to put them in.”

But Hazen didn’t want to sell the bone art unless the money could go to a cause. “If I did this for personal profit, I wouldn’t want to do it anymore,” she said. “I wanted the money to make a difference.”

Enter Rental Resource owner John DeRosa whom Hazen has known for about 10 years. DeRosa has helped Hazen house some of the people she has worked with when they find themselves homeless.

DeRosa has worked with high-risk communities in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls for some time. Together, he and Hazen have developed a reputation for helping people who need a lucky break.

“There’s a huge population here that need a little help,” DeRosa said.

Hazen approached DeRosa about giving him the profits to use as he sees fit to help those who approach him for help. 

“I knew John would use the money well and appropriately and that the money would go directly to help someone,” Hazen said.

Burke was happy to jump on board, donating a portion of the gallery’s share of the sales to help the homeless as well.

“We believe that art is the soul of a community,” Burke said. “They’re just beautiful pieces, but when you see the beauty of what’s being done with them, it’s really what sold us as well.”

Sometimes as little as a $25 application fee can keep someone from getting a roof over their head. When a person applies for more than one apartment, those fees quickly become burdensome.

“It’s giving people a hand up and not a hand out,” DeRosa, who makes sure the money gets to those who need it, said. “Everyone deserves a second chance.”


To see Hazen’s Wish Bone creations, visit 200 Main Art & Wine. For more information on upcoming events featuring Hazen’s art, visit www.200main.org