Senior Stitchers group expands in county

PARKERSBURG – A local group of senior volunteers who lend their sewing and crafting skills to charity projects is expanding.

A Community Senior Stitchers group meets at Parkland Place in Parkersburg. The Retired Senior Volunteer Program Senior Stitchers meets in room 201A of the Wood County Senior Citizens Center in downtown Parkersburg.

The two groups, while working separately, collaborate on projects and resources, lending their sewing and crafting skills to give back to the community, one stitch at a time.

June Roberts, who started the original stitchers group about 14 years ago, now works out of Parkland Place.

“We serve about 19 organizations. We currently have about six workers and we’re always looking for volunteers. We have also added one night a month when we do mending for the Parkland Place residents at no charge,” Roberts said.

“We make quilts that are given to new homeowners through the Habitat for Humanity. We sew aprons for Alzheimer’s patients, make comfort pillows for those who have recently undergone surgery at area hospitals, make convenience bags that can be attached to walkers, and sew gowns for Hospice patients,” Roberts said.

The caring crafters at Parkland Place, 1250 31st St., Parkersburg, meet from 6-8 p.m. every Thursday in the community room. Judy Lawson coordinates the Parkland Place group.

The crafters make blankets for the homeless, afghans for others needing comfort and warmth, neck pillows for patients undergoing chemotherapy, and comfort pillows for stroke and diabetes patients.

The RSVP stitchers group meets every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in room 201A of the Wood County Senior Citizens Center on Market Street in Parkersburg.

Roberts said volunteers don’t have to have sewing skills.

“You don’t have to know how to sew to help out,” Roberts said. As long as you have willing hands and heart, Roberts said, the group will put you to work.

“We can teach them. We had one volunteer who couldn’t even sew on a button, but she wanted to help. I started her out sewing strips of fabric together and now she’s one of my best little sewers. They can do mending, cut patterns,” she said.

Recent projects of the Parkland Place group include making quilts for the homeless at the Latrobe Street Mission.

“They are also making walker bags for the PARS clinic in Parkersburg and Belpre,” Roberts said.

Anne McFee, director of RSVP, said the groups are always in need of fabric, thread, batting and sewing supplies. The groups are all volunteer and don’t charge for the work they do.

The group is nonprofit and operates on donations. The RSVP group headquarters at the senior center is donated space.

“We will probably expand our hours at Parkland Place,” Roberts said. “The senior stitchers from downtown donated some sewing machines for us to use and a quilting frame. It’s really a good group of people; they want to help other people,” Roberts said.

“If someone calls from Hospice, we’ve been concentrating lately on the cancer patients. I have someone who crochets hats; they are so appreciative of them. We also have a group that meets at the Vienna Baptist Church on Grand Central Avenue on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon in the basement,” McFee said.

“They work on a lot of lap robes, and right now they are making tote bags for children for a special project. The bags will be filled later with needed items,” McFee said.

“We want to collect fleece. The cancer patients are so cold when they get their chemotherapy treatments. We make neck pillows for them too.”

“Whenever someone calls with a need, we work all together to help out,” Roberts said.

“We collaborate to meet the needs of the community,” McFee noted.

The RSVP group has about 12 volunteers.

Having worked in area nursing homes, Roberts saw the practical needs of residents. She said the sewing group tries to meet all the requests and answers the needs that come into them.

“We are also sending packages with needed items to soldiers in Afghanistan,” Roberts said.

Projects can take from half an hour to days. Some of the crafters take projects home to work on.

“These projects give these volunteers at Parkland Place something to do; they are working hard. June has brought new life, and given them something to look forward to every week,” McFee said.

“It’s a good time; they enjoy socializing and they have created great friendships. It’s not only good for the community, it’s good for the well-being of the person doing the sewing as well.”

It also preserves sewing and quilting, which are fast becoming lost skills, McFee said.

For more information on the stitchers, to join, donate or schedule a speaker, call Roberts at 304-422-8882; Anne McFee, with RSVP, at 304-422-4993, extension 104, or stop by any of the groups’ work sessions.