Step through the door of Circle of Hope Artisans, on Fairfield Ave in Bellevue, and you will be greeted by eclectic pieces of artwork and charming retail items. Proprietor, and one of the many artisans, Dee Dee Butcher brought together local artists in this space to use their creative talents to raise money for local, national and international charities.

Q What inspired you to create Circle of Hope Artisans?

A I am a retired special education teacher, taught for 25 years, and opened up the Step Up program at the Stepping Stones Center. I was also diagnosed with progressive MS. The executive director said that she was going to retire and I wanted to retire at the same time. I found out very quickly that I did not like just sitting at home. I started out with 10 artisans and my mission was to raise money for charities that support women and children—local, national and international.

Q You mentioned that your goal was to raise money for charities that support women and children. What are some of the charities that benefit from the artisans at COH?

A I have artisans who donate to cancer research, and their products are all natural. I have another who donates to the House of Peace, which is the battered women’s shelter in Clermont County. I also donate to that charity through my church and Circle of Hope. I have a young lady named Kelsey who comes in and donates her time, and I donate to the [Bellevue High School] band in return.

Q Does the boutique host events and/or classes?

A The first Friday of every month [during Shop Bellevue!] we have an event. I host the Santa Shop, and I teamed up with the Campbell County [Family Advocacy Program], Captain Poynter and two of his officers and two officers from Dayton. We brought in 27 local kids who kind of fell through the cracks financially. They brought in their shopping lists and picked out gifts, and Santa’s elves helped them wrap.

Q How many artisans work with COH, and what type of works do they do?

A I currently have 40 artisans here. I’ve got ladies who make jewelry, a lady who does hand-thrown pottery, a fellow who carves wooden flowers, and I’ve got one of the young ladies who goes to my church doing art. Two of the farmers who did the market last year makes jams and jellies—they are Kentucky Proud farmers.

Q What makes Bellevue a great neighborhood, and why is it a great place for COH?

A It is a very small community, a very close-knit community. You can be outside and everyone who walks by says hello. I’ve found it to be a cool group of people. People who hear about the store come in and donate things. They will bring things in asking if I can sell it and donate to charity, and I say absolutely.

Q How do you find inspiration for your projects?

A I look at something nobody else wants and I create something new with it. You E6000 (a high performance adhesive) that baby together, put some color to it, and it makes something that is different. After being diagnosed with progressive MS and then developing lymphoma from the medication I was taking, you know life is short. You do what you like to do, and giving makes me feel the best.