By Jennifer McLogan

MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A shopkeeper opened up her art studio to her community prior to the pandemic, offering free ceramic parties to the PTA, scouts and seniors.

Now, in her time of need, that generosity is being repaid.

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“I don’t want to lose it. I’ve worked 15 years to be here,” said Catherine Camisa, owner of Mom’s Ceramics.

Camisa has poured her heart into clay, kilns and ceramics in her Massapequa shop.

“I have 30,000 molds in the basement that I slipcast, which is a dying art,” she told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.

It’s all teetering on the brink of closure after being served with a huge lawsuit from her landlord, back rent and his legal fees.

“It comes to $87,000, which I can’t pay because I don’t have any customers,” Camisa said.

COVID rules allow in just a few at a time instead of dozens working their crafts.

“That doesn’t pay the bills,” Camisa said.

She applied for Paycheck Protection Program funds, but she was denied because she has no employees.

“We would encourage her and other businesses to reapply to the SBA’s PPP program because they have changed the rules in some cases,” said Eric Alexander, of Long Island Main Street Alliance.

Grants and loans are helpful, but Camisa says she really needs occupancy restrictions to be eased.

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The mother of five and grandmother of three says she and her customers miss each other.

“It’s not always about doing ceramics in here. Sometimes, it’s the comradery,” Camisa said.

“I’ve been coming for 15 years,” one patron said.

“Ceramics, this is my therapy,” another patron said.


Camisa’s fans, patrons and supporters surprised her with generous donated baskets for auction and are planning a virtual fundraiser for her shop next week.

“The community’s coming together. It makes us feel good,” one patron said.

“I’m really very lucky that so many people want to help. I’m blessed,” Camisa said.

It’s helping to keep her afloat through the pandemic.

The fundraiser will take place Wednesday, March 10, from 6-9 p.m. at Zona Italian Restaurant in Massapequa Park. The event will be both virtual and in-person.

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A GoFundMe has also been set up. To donate, click here.

Jennifer McLogan