December 4, 2009
1000 comfort scarves delivered in time for Thanksgiving
The meaning of secure shelters
Center for the Pacific Asian Family included on our list of recipients
The work ethic and determination of our knitting/crocheting volunteers is amazing
The generous contributions from yarn companies and individuals continue
We have at least 1500 comfort scarves in process for Christmas
And now for the details:
We delivered 1000 comfort scarves before Thanksgiving. I am very proud of all of us who have worked so hard to achieve this goal. It was really something to deliver that many scarves. Usually I deliver 250 scarves to 12 shelters. That fills up the car. You can just imagine delivering 1000. It took 3 days and many trips, all worth it!
Making these deliveries was an eye-opening experience for me. I have theoretically understood that the women and children in the shelters have gone to them for protection and that the locations are secret to protect the women and children from their abusers. The consequence for me was that the shelters themselves were hard to find. Usually I deliver to the administrative offices, but this time it was different.
At the recommendation of Grace Whitcomb, S. CA Gas Co., we added the Center for the Pacific Asian Family to our list of recipients. I met Debra Suh, the executive director, at a Jewish Federation building on Fairfax in Los Angeles. I thought the address was odd, I was surprised at the building, but thought CPAF must be small to rent space in that location. Debra and I talked for a bit there, and then she announced that she would take me to the shelter. I followed her on a twisty curvy route to the shelter. Once we arrived, just about the first thing I had to do was sign a document promising never to reveal where the shelter was. Believe me, I didn’t know where I was, much less where the shelter was. I had to use my GPS to get to the next place.
But, my GPS wouldn’t accept the address of the next shelter. And it couldn’t find the location when I searched by name. I had to drive up and down the street until I found it, hidden behind a fence with the address barely apparent. The receptionist explained they had to keep their location secret. That was the reason the GPS couldn’t find them.
Finally, along these same lines, one of the Orange County shelters asked me to deliver to the actual shelter rather than to the office. On the phone, the director of the shelter started giving me directions, such as go South on the 405, exit at Jamboree, turn right at the next street, turn left, turn right---“Wait a minute,” I said to her. “Just give me the address and I will put it into my GPS.” “No,” she said. “I can’t do that for reasons of safety.” I did find the shelter, but it was hard to do.
Those three experiences reshaped my understanding of the meaning of these shelters. They really do provide “shelter.” You cannot find them or the people in them easily. You have to know where you are going. The people inside need protection. They are not open to the public. The women and children in the shelters are not there for a free ride; they are at the shelters because they have been hurt. They need to be kept safe. We must remember this at all times. Delivering the scarves to the shelters, as compared to the administrative offices, brought this home for me.
The visit to CPAF was an uplifting experience, as is visiting all the shelters. Originally a home for teen girls, so there are two kinds of rooms: a small room fitted with a bunk bed and single bed and a large family room that sleeps at least 6. CPAF has a policy of one family to a room. The occupants of the small rooms share a communal bathroom. Occupants of the large family rooms have their own bathroom. They have on-site counseling and job training and do a lot to help the women and families get back on their feet.
One of our most productive groups of knitters is that at Golden West Tower. The women are Chinese and Korean. I met with them the day after I went to CPAF. I thought they would like to know that we had included a shelter devoted to Asian families among our recipients. At first they were shocked that abuse even occurred in the Asian community, but we know that abuse occurs in all communities, in all racial, religious, and socio-economic groups. Then they were ashamed that abuse occurs in their community. But I reminded them that they personally are working hard to help prevent more abuse by making comfort scarves. Finally, they told me they want to make comfort scarves for all groups, not just Asian, even though they are Asian. I assured them that we select the scarves for delivery to the shelters from big boxes and we never know who made them since the name tags are tucked inside. Our only criteria for selecting scarves is that every scarf be different from all the other scarves in the group so the recipients feel they are receiving a truly personal gift. I was impressed at the generosity of spirit, hard work ethic, and determination of the knitters. They will make comfort scarves for any woman who needs one.
All our participants share that hard work ethic and sense of determination to reach the goal. Wherever I go, they ask how close we are to making the 2000 for Christmas delivery. That is a huge goal, and I really didn’t know if we would make it or not, but it looks like we will. The woman in our local knitting groups are doing everything they can to make sure we will; the women who found out about our project on the internet also are doing everything they can to make sure we reach the 2000 goal. Every day more packages show up on my doorstep. Many are not packages from women to whom I have sent free yarn but from those who use their own yarn. We are part of a huge network of great-hearted women who not only want to help others, but actually help others by giving so generously of their time. Applause and thanks to all of you.
Yarn companies continue their generosity. This means a lot because I am making and sending out so many kits that I am going through miles of yarn every day. Crystal Palace Yarns continues to be an exceptional donor. Just when I was running out of yarn, another box arrived from them filled with just what I needed to continue making kits. Coats & Clark also sent a box filled with a variety of their products. I went through that box in a day—not because it was small, but because I was making so many kits. In fact, I made so many kits in October and November that my yarn-winding arm is actually tired. It was a race as to what would wear out first—my arm or the ball winder. I think it was a tie. Luckily, again, June Grossberg, owner of Concepts in Yarn and our biggest sponsor, lent me a ball winder so I could continue making kits. And an anonymous donor contributed money for me to buy another group of kit making tools (swift, yarn meter, and ball winder) so she can help me make kits next year. I am really lucky to have so many committed friends, volunteers, knitters, crocheters, donors, and people who believe in our mission of supplying comfort scarves to abused women. Thank you all.
We will continue collecting scarves for Christmas delivery until Dec. 11. We have about 1500 counted scarves now and plenty more uncounted and still in their boxes so I’m sure that we will have 2000 by the 11th. We will need a little time to prepare them for delivery, tie them with ribbons, etc. After that, all the scarves that come in will go toward January deliveries. As you may know, there is so much abuse over the holidays, the shelters all are jam packed in January. Incredible, isn’t it.
If you want to donate scarves or yarn or if you want to send a check, please mail to:
Handmade Especially for You c/o Leslye Borden
30065 Grandpoint Lane
Rancho Palos Verdes CA 90275
Thanks in advance.