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Sharing a Common Thread

September 06, 2017

The Stitchers, Quilters, Weavers, Knitters, Sewing Bees and Share the Warmth groups overlap with members. An all-inclusive bunch, they work together to do some pretty amazing things. The Stitchers and Share the Warmth are philanthropic groups that make cozy fleece and crocheted blankets for patients undergoing chemotherapy, and knitted and crocheted hats, scarves, and blankets for homeless and women’s shelters. The Quilting and Weaving groups gather to work on personal projects. The Sewing Bees is a mixed bag of quilters, sewers and knitters who create craft items for sale at Mim’s Shop at the Center. They make everything from embroidered towels and baby quilts to scarves and the stress-relieving Damnit Dolls. 

Amy Thompson was adopted by the group seven years ago when she was found knitting in the Atrium while her son-in-law attended a Men’s Club meeting. Someone saw her and asked if she’d like to see the knitting studio.  Since then, she’s been hooked. “I come here because it’s helpful for people our age to do something worthwhile. It’s relaxing, gives me focus and keeps me alert. All are welcome in our groups. If you don’t know how to knit or sew, we will teach you,” she insisted.

Fay Goldblatt, who’s been coming to the Center twice a week for the past five years calls it a “win-win-win.” She said, “I get to spend time with a diverse group of people, be useful and do good for others.” She said she loves how they all work together in a team fashion: some cutting fabric, some crocheting trim, and some putting blankets together.

What they get back, they insisted, outweighs what they give. “Sometimes we get thank-you notes from patients who tell us how the blanket we made kept them warm through cancer treatments,” said Dorene Kaplan. “Receiving those letters and knowing that we make a difference inspires us to make more!”

Retirement hasn’t kept former North Shore Senior Center employee Maryann Stubitsch away. She started going to Stitchers and Share the Warmth on her lunch hour when she worked at the Center’s front desk. She came to love the group so much she’s still a regular. On Wednesdays, our own Mary Staackmann can be found in the knitting studio, sharing knitting tips with members and even working on her own latest treasure.

Rose Carroll, associate director of Lifelong Learning (and the Center’s longest employee of 29 years!), oversees the Arts and Crafts clubs and Mim’s Shop at the Center. She said the clubs cultivate more than friendships. “Members look out for each other and are accountable,” she said. “If you’re not going to make club on a day when you’re expected to be there, you let someone in the group know so we don’t worry. When someone is sick, the group sends a get-well card signed by everyone.”

According to Rose, the members take care of each other and look out for one another. In recent years, three members of the sculpting group lost adult children, so they joined together and formed a support group. “When someone experiences a loss we talk about it,” she said. “And when we lose one of our own, we take time to talk about our loss and focus on how our lives are enriched because of that person.”

Besides providing a place for friendship, camaraderie and doing something meaningful, the clubs at North Shore Senior Center are a lifeline. “The clubs really bring things full circle,” said Rose. “Occasionally, I will recognize when something’s not quite right with a member—maybe he or she seems depressed or has become more forgetful. There have been more than a few times that we’ve been able to help someone by letting family members know that their loved one might need an assessment or perhaps more supervision or structure.”

To learn more about the many clubs and activities Lifelong Learning offers, call 847.784.6030 or email LifelongLearning@nssc.org.