“Who wants to sew and make something,” Foothills Sewing Guild member Nancy Goodwin asked the guests of The ARK before indulging in an hour of sewing and creation with the shelter’s residents.
For the past seven years, she and fellow sewer Joan Sanders have been visiting The ARK every Thursday at 1 p.m. to teach its residents how to sew, repair clothing and make new crafts and gifts.
The sessions take place in the building’s conference room and are open to all guests in the shelter. Guests learn about design, figuring out what they’d like to make, and then explore the fabrics and material they’d like to use in their style. They also learn how to work the sewing machines and use its functions to bring their visions to life.
“This was my first day in the class and I enjoyed it,” said ARK guest Cornetta Boston. “It brought back memories from middle school in my economics class. I want to come back and make another pillow.”
The tradition started seven years ago when Goodwin and Sanders thought it would be nice to go to The ARK to work with the residents on quilts which were auctioned off in benefit for the homeless shelter. After two years of working with The ARK’s residents, the guild donated sewing machines and supplies and the two sewers began working with ARK residents individually, giving them an opportunity to try a new hobby.
“We are so grateful to have them working with our guests,” said Cynthia Cothren, executive director of ARK. “They are good and faithful servants to come out of their way and teach our residents who have varying levels of sewing skills, some of whom have never sewn before. For many of them it’s a learning experience that allows them to grow and express themselves. It also gives them sewing skills that can come in handy. If they have a broken button or a pair of pants that needs to be hemmed, they’ll know how to fix it themselves without having someone else repair it.”
The guests have made a variety of items in the class including pillows, aprons and blankets for their future homes and for friends and families. Some guests have made pillows to be sold for fundraisers while others have made tote bags to be given to one another during the Christmas season.
“It gives them pride when they make something special by hand, especially when they give it to a loved one,” said Cothren. “It may seem simple, but it’s a huge part of life. There’s no such thing as a small donation of your time and effort to someone else. I am happy to see how we’ve grown together as a loving and caring community here.”
ARK resident India Trimble has been working with the instructors for the past few months and has found it to be a rewarding experience.
“I saw everybody sewing and making things and I was very hands-on and loved to do crafts and arts,” said Trimble. “I’d never tried sewing and I decided it was about time I learned. They taught me how to use the sewing machine and how to make different things. I’ve been working on an apron for the past four years and have also started working on a quilt for my grandmother.”
Trimble will soon be leaving The ARK and has been given a sewing machine to take home with her and continue her craft.
“It’s been a great learning experience,” said Trimble. “I know that if all else fails, I can use a machine and probably do OK on making whatever I need in the future.”
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.