Sunday, May 25, 2008

Making blankets, making friends

Telegram Staff Writer

The ladies work their magic with yarn and crochet hooks.
Called the Circle of Friends, they meet once a week at Sammons Community Center to make afghans, shawls, hats and satchels for residents of area nursing homes.
'It's a strong, close-knit group. A real social group,' said Lisa Potts, director of the community center. 'They enjoy each other, and they enjoy what they do.'
Eva Brown didn't know much about crocheting when she first joined, but she figured she could learn what she needed to know.
'And I was right,' Ms. Brown said, smiling. 'What you don't know, somebody will show you.'
She's glad she got involved.
'For some of us, this is our only day out,' Ms. Brown said. 'It's an excuse to come out, visit and see other people.' Lyda Davis gladly picks up her crochet hooks for the sake of the people at the nursing homes.
'I just like the people,' Ms. Davis said. 'It's such a joy to see their faces when you give it to them. Some don't accept at first because they think it costs money, and that breaks my heart.'
These words from Ms. Brown and Ms. Davis are from a conversation that took place May 14 at the Sammons Community Center. The 30 members of the Circle of Friends were talking about their morning of giving crocheted gifts to unsuspecting senior citizens.
'One lady said, 'My, it's beautiful, but I can't pay for it,'' said Sharon Henson. 'I told her it was free, and that I wanted her to have it. She asked me what my name was, and I told her, and she said she'd name the blanket after me. And then she gave me a big hug.'
Ms. Henson paused for a second, seeming to replay the moment in her head.
'They're so grateful. They love to see us, and there's a lot of laughing,' Ms. Henson said. 'Most of us are widows, so being able to do something that takes care of other people, well, that's important.'
The ladies then started talking about their personal lives, catching each other up on doctor's appointments, family visits and stories from the TV. The 30-woman group didn't split into a bunch of cliques. As they joked and laughed, they included everyone without effort.
Sitting at a long, rectangular table, the women of the Circle of Friends were munching on pizza. Ms. Potts throws them a party on the days they drop off their crocheted gifts.
'It's like this every delivery day,' Ms. Potts said. 'Actually, it's like this every time they're here. They all have so much fun visiting.'
Getting the gift
Regency Manor in Temple was one of the stops the Circle of Friends made on May 14.
The crocheters had made a variety of lap blankets, caps and satchels to distribute.
'The satchels are really neat,' said Kathy Miller, activities director at Regency Manor. 'It's real handy for the people with walkers. They can button the bag to the walker, and then they have someplace to put their glasses or a book or whatever, so they don't have to carry it.'
Abbie Streeter was one of the first residents to receive an afghan.
'I think it's beautiful. You can tell a lot of work went into it,' she said. 'I'm overjoyed at the surprise of it and of the visit.'
Ms. Miller nodded her head.
'They'll be talking about this for weeks,' Ms. Miller said. 'The residents love it.'
Ova Hollowell hugged Ms. Brewer and Ms. Henson when she received her gift. She set the blanket on her lap and asked if her visitors would sit sit and stay a while.
'I think it's real nice to get a visit like this,' Ms. Hollowell said.
After a talk and a few more hugs, the Circle of Friends moved from one room to another. They spotted Beverly Desmarias and asked her if she'd like a hat.
She didn't say yes, but she took it and put it on her head. The grin on her face couldn't be wider if she was a 5 year old at Christmastime.
'I love it. What a surprise,' Ms. Desmarias said. 'No, this isn't a surprise. I could tell by looking at you all that you are nice people. Of course, you'd have a pretty hat to give me.'
Making it happen
Supplies for the Circle of Friends to do their work are always in demand. Club members contribute what they can, and anything left over, the city of Temple buys for them.
'The Circle of Friends is part of the Sammons budget,' Ms. Potts said. 'The ladies will make up a wish list, and then I go out and see what I can find. Sometimes it's difficult just because the list is so detailed. There'll be a request for 'veregated yarn in medium widths.''
Ms. Potts stopped for a breath, and then she giggled.
'But they know what they're talking about,' Ms. Potts said. 'Their work is so lovely.'
Donations of supplies are welcome, and so are new members.
'All you have to do is show up,' Ms. Henson said. 'But, it would help if you knew how to crochet.'

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