In mission wherever you are

January 03, 2011

Throughout our lives — no matter what our circumstances — most people have an overwhelming desire to be useful and to help others.

It’s that desire and her faith that have driven Susan Smith, who turns 90 on Jan. 7, to organize a craft group that has produced 530 hand-crafted items for people in need over the last year.
The group of 25 participants are residents at Wesleyan Homes, Inc. in Georgetown (Temple District). They add to their numbers one Wesleyan visitor from Minnesota who donated her handmade shawl to the cause.
“Being together, having fellowship and doing something for others is what brings us joy,” says Mrs. Smith who came to the Wesleyan from Temple where she was a member at the Church of Christ. She and others at her church had been knitting and crocheting caps and blankets for children in Temple area hospitals, so Mrs. Smith began by using those established contacts to disseminate their gifts.
The purpose of the activity, says Mrs. Smith, was to make caps, blankets, shawls and lap robes that were donated to children and adults at the Mental Health Mental Retardation facility; for children at the S&W Oncology Hospital in Temple; Oncology Rehab in Austin; women and men at the Marbridge in Austin; children with emotional problems; items for babies of unwed mothers at Annunciation Maternity Home; nursing home residents; and children at the Methodist Children’s Home in Waco.
Many of the Wesleyan crafters were already skilled in knitting and crocheting, but others joined the classes that Mrs. Smith and others led weekly and began their ministry for the first time. Unfortunate, knitting needles and arthritic fingers were not always compatible, so several ladies had to discontinue the classes. Most continued to come, however, for the welcome fellowship.
Ninety-nine-year-old Irene Hudson uses a special magnifying light to create her baby blankets. Some of her blankets will be given to babies at the maternity homes and others to oncology patients.
June Winters loves the fellowship or the group and working with her hands to knit shawls and baby blankets. Like several of the others, however, she is rather immobile and cannot go to the stores to buy supplies. She must rely on donated yarn and the supplies others share with her.
The group gets together for one hour each week to work on their projects, but most of them continue their needlework for at least an hour each day throughout the week.
Mrs. Smith says the work challenges their aging hands, “but we feel we are doing something for a child, a sick person or for a family and that makes us feel like we are making someone happy.”
They’ve spread a lot of happiness over the past year:
365     caps for children and adults
7          shawls (previously delivered)
43        baby blankets
15        baby caps
54        shawls
9          fleece shawls
39        fleece lap robes
Mrs. Smith likes what someone once wrote: “There is a prayer in every stitch” and chooses to embrace that idea for their work.
The Wesleyan residents were delighted to welcome Trey Oakley, vice president of Methodist Children’s Home, as a guest speaker this past year. Mobile members of the group made a field trip to MCH last June and made the decision to provide caps to the children and youth.
Other field trips included the Annunciation Maternity Home and area nursing homes. “At Christmas time we can know of the joy brought to some besides our own families,” Mrs. Smith reports.
The greatest challenge for these industrious women is getting supplies. “A supply of yarn and a few needles are provided for the convenience of some residents,” Mrs. Smith explains, “those who are unable to ride the bus or walk long distances in the stores to correlate different colors or textures.”
Assistance in the cost of the supplies comes from donations by some of the residents, their families and friends. Other donations have come from Wesleyan Nursing Home ($60), Wesleyan Retirement Home ($130), Wal-Mart gift certificate ($50), Hobby Lobby ($50) and gifts from several Wesleyan residents.
They would welcome 2- and 4-ply yarn, fleece fabrics for blankets, and financial gifts from others who believe in their cause. A Sunday school class, women and/or children’s groups would make good partners in ministry with this dedicated group.
For more details on how to help, contact Wesleyan Homes President Chris G. Spence in Georgetown at cspence@wesleyanhomes.org or 512-868-1205.