After Judith Weinstein became disabled and gave up medicine, she spent several years in physical and psychological pain.
"I was dealing with the loss of my entire life," the Mount Laurel resident, now 60, recalls.
A decade ago, she launched a new career as an arts and crafts retailer. And lately, she's been helping more and more disabled people explore their creativity, too.
"This is where the magic happens," Weinstein beams when I arrive at Jubili Beads & Yarns, the cheery Collingswood shop she opened in 2003. Jubili also is the home of Jubilation Creations, the nonprofit Weinstein founded three years ago.
A staff of paid professionals, volunteers, and interns works with those who have autism or other developmental disabilities. I take in parts of one or two sessions and am impressed with the patience and concentration of all concerned.
"It's very fulfilling," says Drexel University psychology student Dana D'Alessandro, 21, of Mount Ephraim. "And it's good social interaction for them."
Clients (Weinstein calls them "attendees") make personal items such as jewelry and scarves, and learn how to use paint, glue, and other materials and tools to create small works of art.
Vividly colored works in progress are on display throughout the store.
An intricate mixed-media piece called "Plumber's Nightmare" mixes sly humor and gothic trappings - and wouldn't look out of place in a hipster art gallery.
"This is not just coloring on construction paper," says Weinstein, a doctor who was a diagnostic radiologist before neurological damage and chronic pain forced her to retire in 1996. "I treat this more as art therapy than just something to do for an hour."
Classes can range from one to three hours, and much of the instruction is one on one. An hour-long class costs $35, with the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities and Easter Seals Inc. picking up the cost.
As someone who thought bugle beads were ... little bugles (they look more like jimmies), I hadn't realized what's going on inside Jubili. The Haddon Avenue building is jam-packed with activities.
Folks such as Kelly Smith, 21, of Cherry Hill, are learning to make their own jewelry - and their own beads as well.
During my visit, she cuts pieces of brightly colored paper into triangles, then rolls them up tight. Presto: Paper beads.
"I like beading," Kelly says.
"It's a wonderful program," adds her mother, Barbara, of Cherry Hill.
Kelly takes a two-hour class every other Thursday and is happy to be making items suitable for gift-giving, her mother adds.
"For many of our class attendees, the things they make are the first things they've ever made and given to loved ones as gifts," says Weinstein, who moves slowly but speaks with passionate velocity.
"It does give them a tremendous feeling of self-accomplishment, self-pride, and self-confidence, as well as a sense that they are fully participating in life's special events."
Weinstein knows what it's like to be on the margins - in her case, after years of vigorous living, of raising a daughter (now 15), skiing, and working in health care.
Knitting, which her mother taught her as a child, helped her get back to the world outside hospitals and sick rooms.
Now, she's hoping to move to a larger downtown Collingswood building - one with a parking lot. She's working on certifications to have Jubili become a job-training site.
To create something, Weinstein says, "is healing. And not only for me."