Garrett Andrews

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April 3, 2014
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Sunrise Enterprises model togs at Earth Day fair

At the Sunrise Enterprises’ processing center where Linda Bredskar sorts donated clothes, she took a break last week around quitting time to show off her catwalk routine.

Lofty gait. Hand on hip. Fish face. She looks like she doesn’t care, but wants you to know it.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, and I like it,” she exhorted.

Bredskar says the annual “Good as New Fashion Show” is a chance for her to look nice, and also show off. According to organizers, it’s become a big deal for employees of Sunrise Enterprises, which for nearly five decades has helped people experience the benefits of a job.

Bredskar struts her stuff along with other Sunrise employees at 11 a.m. Saturday at the fairgrounds.

Sunrise is a local nonprofit agency founded in 1969 that provides jobs for people with disabilities.

It will be the 10th year the fashion show has been held at the Earth Day and Energy Fair, now in its 14th year.

Sunrise has instructed its 25 or so models to spend no more than $20 on their outfits. Each year’s clothing has a theme. This year it’s “spring,” so the women once again have an excuse to don jazzy frocks and the men to dress to the nines.

“I just go up there and show off,” said Ralinda Atkinson, who has picked out a pleated skirt and pink top for this year.

Models have been brides and grooms and surfer dudes. A popular getup for the guys is a sharp suit plus shades.

“It’s outfits I wouldn’t normally wear,” said Randi Jones, who’s been a groom before.

Bredskar (or “Linda B.,” as she’s known around work due to a preponderance of other Lindas) said she’s looking for an outfit that her boyfriend might like. He’ll be in attendance on Saturday, she said.

“Oh yes,” she said. “I’m going to look nice.”

The show is a fun outlet for employees, plus it demonstrates how creatively and nice you can dress when you shop secondhand, according to Linda Jensen, manager of Sunrise’s skills development center. The organization also plans to give out several hundred plants at the fair.

Sunrise’s processing center in an old shopping center on Harvard Avenue buzzes during the day with people sorting clothes, electronics, toys, kitchenware and other donated items. From here, they’re distributed to Sunrise’s four Shop and Save thrift stores in Douglas County.

With its administrative offices in Green, the organization has a large footprint. “We’re scattered all over the place,” Jensen said.

It also has a thorough and wide-reaching impact, Jensen said.

For many people with developmental disabilities, there aren’t many options after high school. Sunrise employees develop work and life skills, become more integrated into their community, earn money for themselves and improve their physical and mental health. Their families and caretakers, meanwhile, often get needed respite.

Businesses and organizations also benefit from the services Sunrise provides — recycling, wood products and contract employment for local businesses like Wendy’s.

Sunrise is the eighth-largest employer in Douglas County, now providing vocational services or employment to 145 people with disabilities. Other staff numbers around 100.

The organization is planning to relocate its processing center from Harvard Avenue to the 20,000-square-foot former Werner Works building on three acres at 3005 N.E. Diamond Lake Blvd.

Entertainment for the Earth Day Fair also includes bluegrass band Sons of the Soil, the Accordion Club of Roseburg, Celtic band The Liberty Players, The Phoenix School Band, Eugene jazz band GEO 4 and poets from the Umpqua Valley Poets.

There will be booths featuring demonstrations and products. A bike will be given away and the Umpqua Valley Audubon Society will have information about migratory birds.

• You can reach reporter Garrett Andrews at 541-957-4218 or by email at

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The News-Review Updated Apr 3, 2014 12:40PM Published Apr 17, 2014 06:38PM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.