Renowned Entreprenuer Maxine Clark / DELMAR DiVIne

Renowned Entreprenuer Maxine Clark / Delmar DiVIne

Over forty years ago, my path crossed with the legendary entrepreneur behind Build-A-Bear, Maxine Clark. We first met at Venture Stores, a retail powerhouse of its time in Missouri and Illinois, where Maxine served as Vice President under President and CEO Julie Seehrman. Our bond grew stronger at Venture having known her as during her former position in Topeka, Kansas, she worked at Volume Shoe alongside my remarkably talented father-in-law, Harry Berger.

Maxine has always been a mentor and a figure I deeply admire, especially in an era when female leaders were a rarity. Her dynamism and profound understanding of retail and entrepreneurship propelled her to national recognition. She tirelessly built an empire with Build-A-Bear, creating cherished memories for countless children ans people with her iconic stuffed animals. See the movie UNSTUFFED to see her entire story!

However, Maxine's journey didn't end with Build-A-Bear. Her next venture, Delmar Divine, stands as a testament to her unwavering commitment to community and innovation. Delmar Divine is a remarkable project born out of her love for people. It houses non-profits, provides housing for the underserved, offers medical treatments, and serves as a networking hub for groups dedicated to bettering St. Louis and rebuilding neighborhoods.

When I learned about Delmar Divine, I was inspired by Maxine's vision and dedication. I felt compelled to contribute to this incredible endeavor. I decided to donate a painting that holds a special place in my heart. This painting, with its vibrant colors and hopeful imagery, symbolizes the spirit of community and the transformative power of collective effort.

Maxine's reaction to the donation was heartwarming. She expressed how the painting beautifully captured the essence of Delmar Divine's mission. Now, the artwork adorns one of the central spaces within Delmar Divine, serving as a source of inspiration and a reminder of the impact we can have when we come together to support and uplift our community.

Maxine Clark's legacy continues to shine brightly through Delmar Divine, and I am honored to be a small part of this incredible journey. Her relentless passion for people and her ability to create positive change is truly awe-inspiring.

in addition, The Delmar DivINe is home to over 60 murals created during a pivotal time in St. Louis's history, specifically around the events following Michael Brown's death in Ferguson in 2014. These murals originated from the grassroots "Painting for Peace" effort, which began as a community initiative to transform boarded-up windows into canvases for art, helping people process their emotions and support struggling businesses.

In just one week, over 500 artists and volunteers produced 300 works of art, using various materials such as spray paint and stencils. These murals conveyed themes of hope, healing, equality, and justice. The "Painting for Peace" exhibit at Delmar DivINe is the most comprehensive collection of these artworks, illustrating the power of community collaboration and resilience.

Special thanks are given to Saint Louis University and Dr. Aaron Pile for their donations, as well as to all the artists and businesses involved. The exhibit highlights the importance of unity and the ability to create beauty from adversity.

Ferguson native Carol Swartout Klein documented these murals in her book, with proceeds supporting North County non-profits. She emphasizes that even after difficult events, there is always something positive to contribute.

I am proud to be part of this collection, which inspires people to embrace the values that Delmar Divine stands for—the significance of this renaissance in modern neighborhoods and the importance of working together for the betterment of our communities.

Faith Berger

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