DECA’s Veteran Drivers, Scene 4

If you have a kid and you’ve been to the farmer’s market in East Lynn Park, you probably know Melissa Peretti. She’s the person who plays with her or him, while you go smell the peaches and size up the fresh garlic.  For years now, she’s run a creative crafts table every week at the market, teaching kids how to make home-made maracas and finger puppets.

If you don’t know her from there, then maybe you’ve visited her storefront Mrs. Darling. She’s been one of our pop-up entrepreneurs not once, but twice.

But what you should really know about Melissa, is that she’s spent countless hours over many years helping set up and run the annual Danforth East Arts Fair. She is extremely humble about her efforts (“just one of a team!”), but we want to shout out our praises because we think, truly, she is an example of how much of a difference one person can make to a neighbourhood.

Somehow, we got her to join the board too.

Here is veteran DECA board member MELISSA PERETTI, in her own words….

Melissa Peretti as Mrs. Darling at the East Lynn Farmers' Market

Melissa Peretti as Mrs. Darling at the East Lynn Farmers’ Market

My name and age is… Melissa Peretti holding strong at 38. I grew up in Peterborough, went to an intergraded arts high school, and couldn’t wait to leave and find everything in the big city. What I have ended up finding is a welcoming, closeknit community unlike anything there was in my small suburban town, where you had to drive every where to get or do anything.

One thing people don’t know about me is… that I’m that “market craft lady” Mrs. Darling, and due to popular request I’ve recently launched my new interior design business for families to help them have creativity, play, and whimsy in the homes they should love to live in now though purposeful design.

I also belong to an awesome business ladies group, IBOSS (Independent Business Owners Stratagy and Support Group, but I like to think of us as a Secret Society). We meet monthly, usually at Cake Town, but had a spring lunch (in the pic below) at Melanie’s Bistro.

I moved to Danforth East… in 2005 two weeks after I got married in Italy, into a house on Strathmore Blvd., from Spadina and Queen. Big changes.

One change I’ve seen over the years….  the influx of young families. There are waaaay more little ones toddling around then when my eight-year-old was that young. You need a reservation to get into the sandbox at East Lynn now. (Joke credit Andrew Mattews)

The thing I love most about Danforth East is… the proximity to everything. I can get everything I need with in a ten minute walk, but if I do have to leave there’s the subway. Boom! DVP. Boom! Lakeshore Gardiner right down there. Beaches, Greek Town……

My biggest local pet peeve is… the sidewalk flower planters. But I know the street scraping is being rolled out in stages just now. (Thanks MMM!)

My neighborhood secret is… going with my daughter to Royal Beef on a Sunday to get a sandwich (which they will make you if you didn’t know) and her weekly supply of “crack ham”, better known as Applewood smoked ham. She’s nuts for it.

The place I go in DECA’s stomping grounds that you’ve likely never frequented is… my street’s progressive dinner party we host in the cold depths of February. Just when you are starting to forget what your neighbours look like, it’s a great time to make merry. The first one I joined, I brought my one-month-old baby along. She slept in the bassinet as we went form house to house. It was probably the last one were I was conservative with the wine pairings.

The thing I’ve done as a DECA board member that makes me most proud is… my work on the Arts Fair. Really a lot of fun. We are a small group (but can always grow!!). We hand pick every artist, try to create a perfect balance, making sure each one has a unique voice at the show. After all those months of work, there’s nothing like the feeling on a cool, dewy September morning, helping the artists set up and it all coming together.

My final word…. DECA always can use more hands. I was very intimidated by the super-involved, over-achievers when I started hanging around my first meetings. But not everyone has to lead a project to get involved. You just need to figure out what feels interesting and see where it takes you. A few hours lending a hand here and there really makes a big difference to pulling off most of the events we all enjoy.

DECA Board member Melissa Peretti (third from the left) and the other members of the local business group, IBOSS, otherwise known as the Secret Society.

DECA Board member Melissa Peretti (third from the left) and the other members of the local business group, IBOSS, otherwise known as the Secret Society.*

( *For those fellow solo-pronours, or simply curious neighbours, members of IBOSS pictured with Melissa in the photo include: Isabelle Bouchard, owner of Ankh Yoga, ankhyoga.com ; Heather Corbin, graphic designer, corbincreative.ca; Samantha Lowes, bookkeeper, lowesconsulting.ca ; Tobi Asmoucha, photographer, tobiphoto.com ; and Tammy Lai, accountant thecarrotcounter.com. Final member Queenie Best wasn’t there for the pic. She’s a graphic designer,   queeniescards.com.)

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