June 30, 2010
We distributed 580 comfort scarves this month; almost 4000 scarves so far this year
We added 2 shelters to our list of recipients
Beat Yesterday mentality
We should be crying, not cheering
The shelters need comfort scarves
Ongoing support of Concepts in Yarn and June Grossberg
Our first PayPal donation
The essential qualities of a comfort scarf
Handmade’s members are very generous and creative
And now for the details.
Another great month. We delivered 580 comfort scarves. In order to get them all ready, we accepted the help and support of many people. Shirley, a volunteer at Concepts in Yarn, wove in the ends of many scarves that needed a few finishing touches. We had another wrap party where Chris Needham, (our regular wrapper but the job got too big!), Teresa Copely, Barbara Klein, Sharon McCann, Kathy Allen, Myra Kumagae and her sister Eileen, all joined together to prepare this huge number of scarves for delivery. It was lots of fun and my dining room looked like Christmas once all the scarves were wrapped in their bright ribbons.
Barbara Klein’s business shipped all the boxes. There were so many (2 shelters received 100 scarves each) that the cost of shipping exceeds the amount she can donate. So cash donations to Handmade paid the rest. Handmade now has actual printed checks. We’re getting more and more professional.
As I’ve mentioned in prior Newsletters, I hope we will deliver comfort scarves to every shelter in LA County. We’re almost there. In June, we added Haven House in Pasadena (not to be confused with Haven Hills in Canoga Park). I called several of the few remaining shelters and left messages, but some have been closed due to state budget cuts. As a result, it will be easier for Handmade to reach its goal, but harder for abused women seeking shelter. Mary Gravlin, one of our prolific knitters, suggested a shelter in San Diego where members of her family volunteer, so I called there and now we have added YWCA (Becky’s House) of San Diego to our list. The list of shelters to which we donate is impressive, but most important to remember is how great the need for shelters is.
In general, I have a Beat Yesterday mentality. That comes from my business background and my personality. I am always in a race, even with myself. Beat Yesterday is a retail concept. Store buyers measure their success each day by comparing sales figures with the same day in the prior year. If they “beat yesterday,” their job is safe. If they didn’t, they have to account for the decline—bad weather, street closures, acts of God, etc. Every month, I check what we shipped in 2009 compared to what we just shipped. I congratulate myself, and all of you, for our success in beating yesterday’s (last year’s) numbers. Handmade is really growing. I cheer. I clap my hands. I am thrilled. BUT
Thinking about our “success,” it strikes me that we should be crying, not cheering, that there is such a huge need for comfort scarves. I am astounded that the 6,500 scarves we delivered last year to 22 shelters in LA County were not enough to reach every battered and abused woman or even every shelter. This realization saddens me considerably, but makes me even more resolved in my dedication to continue. Maybe I shouldn’t cheer so much about achieving our goals.
The shelters want and need our scarves. The directors acknowledge the value of receiving comfort scarves in breaking the cycle of low self-esteem/acceptance of domestic violence of their clients. Here are snippets from thank you letters sent to Handmade:
Caity Riddle, Manager—Becky’s House Programs, writes: “I just wanted to let you know that we are so excited that you and your volunteers have selected Becky’s House Programs to be one of your recipients! This means so much to us!”
Aracelly Guevara, Bilingual Support Services Provider at My Sister’s Place, writes: “I have a little something I would like to share with you. . . . . I took one of your scarves to the client (in the hospital). It was very comforting for the client to receive one of your scarves. Thank you so much. . . . It made the client cry; it made me cry too.”
Layla Abdul, Human Options, writes: “Your consistent donations have been a true blessing to the clients we serve.”
Angelina Coe, Executive Director at Women’s and Children’s Crisis Shelter, writes: “It takes special people to reach out a helping hand to those in need. You are just such people!!!! We want you to know that you and your support are significant part of our helping our clients rebuild their lives and restore their hope and dignity. . . . .We couldn’t do it without the generosity of our wonderful supporters. Thank you for your donation.”
The group around the table at Concepts in Yarn on Wednesday evenings gets bigger every week. Thanks to the generosity and dedication of June Grossberg, owner, who encouraged me to go forward with Handmade and start the knitting club under her auspices. In addition to the dining room sized table with all its leaves in, we now have a card table as well. About 6:30 or so, we have so many attendees that we all have to squeeze in next to each other. It is a wonderful experience, so supportive and friendly. June’s sponsorship and support have been so valuable to the growth and success of Handmade. I must verbally appreciate it again and again.
We received our first donation on PayPal this month. Colette Emanuel made a donation to cover the cost of shipping kits to her. How easy and high tech! Thank you so much Colette. Chris Needham and Susan Mann, both non-scarfers who want to contribute to Handmade, made generous cash donations. At a knitting group meeting, someone asked how the cash donations were going. I replied that our volunteers are very generous with their time, yarn companies and individuals are very generous with donating yarn, but cash is hard to come by. Given our economy, I can understand that. But the result is that as much as I want to set up a workshop outside of my home so that volunteers can make kits, etc. I cannot take on a long term commitment like paying rent and utilities without some consistent income. I’ll work on applying for grants, etc. soon, when I’m 100% recovered from April’s surgery.
At the half way mark of 2010, we’ve delivered almost 4,000 comfort scarves. We have 6,000 to go to achieve our goal. In the two wrap parties we’ve had, the participants discussed the qualities of a good comfort scarf. I’d like to share some of their thoughts.
They should be beautiful, something we would wear ourselves.
They should be nice enough to give to our mothers, sisters, or daughters.
They should be decorated with fun fur or some other decorative yarn.
They should show some spark of creativity.
We are not playing a numbers game. Even though we still need 6,000 scarves, we will not accept anything, just because it has been hand knitted or crocheted.
The maker should take pride in her work, send a finished product, keep the edges straight, weave in the ends, sign her first name to the gift tag and attach it to the scarf.
The point of a comfort scarf isn’t style or warmth; its purpose is showing the abused woman that she is worthy of receiving a beautiful, handmade scarf, that we, and rest of the world, haven’t forgotten about her.
I’d love to know your ideas on what makes a comfort scarf. I think we should keep discussing this subject.
We depend on each one of you for Handmade’s continued growth and success. We couldn’t donate so many scarves to so many shelters without your participation. Whatever you do, whether you knit or crochet scarves, share patterns, make kits, donate yarn, money, equipment, spend time winding or wrapping, all are important. Many, many thanks.
If you want to donate scarves or yarn, or send a check, please mail to:
Handmade Especially for You c/o Leslye Borden
30065 Grandpoint Lane
Rancho Palos Verdes CA 90275