Thursday, January 20, 2011

Count down

Today was January 14th. Our time with WOW was quiet, but we really are beginning to bond with the ladies that know us now. Piphany and I got her started on a new project. Dee promised she would practice! Good connections all around today. We were missing one familiar face - Marilyn. You all might remember Marilyn in one of the earliest posts by JT. It was our first group visit to the HSC and JT came for the 13 Fridays kick off. Marilyn and her husband Mac had only been at the campus for a few days.

I'm happy to say that the reason Marilyn wasn't at WOW is that she got a job! I hope it isn't the last we see of her - for one reason, she's become an awesome crocheter! But we all enjoyed Marilyn's hope and optimism in the midst of her situation. Greta especially has bonded with Marilyn. After teaching her to crochet, Greta made a point of coming each Friday, just to spend time with Marilyn. She has been one of the inspiring characters we've all had the pleasure to meet during our time with 13 Fridays.

We only have a couple more weeks before the 13 Friday project comes to a close. I feel sure my connections will last beyond.

This is Greta on 12/03 (in red) when she first taught Marilyn to crochet. She was a fast learner!

Kate Benjamin and Meghan Olesen - faithful regulars of 13 Fridays.




I missed posting for our visit on January 7 - so here I am.  It's not that I'm getting complacent. (I won't mention that I've been waiting for some much needed images from that day (-: .) There have just been lots of changes a foot.

Our morning knitting circle at the HSC.

My hat on one of the residents here. Nice feeling to see your work on someone's head.






Lisa #1

Lisa #2

Lisa #3

Lisa #4

Lisa #5


This visit was our first for the new year. We had a couple of new visitors on the 7th - Deborah and Gandolfa. So glad to see new faces along with the familiar - Cattryn, Greta and Meghan. Our time with the ladies on the 7th was quiet, but always fruitful. Tillie was tired. And with good reason.

Because Tillie has really been a stand out, generous folks who have the means, want to find ways for women like Tillie to lift themselves up - and out. So, Tillie has been invited to apply for a class run by an organization called Emerge AZ. This is a group of "power women" considering public service, and their organization is contemplating taking Tillie under their wing. So - Tillie was invited to a cocktail party before interviewing for acceptance.

As we left the WOW session, Tillie turns to me and says, "The attire is supposed to be 'business casual'. What does that mean?" I answered her, with not much thought as I would any friend contemplating such an invitation. I went on with the rest of the visit that day, but as I thought more clearly about this later in the day, it occurred to me that Tillie probably had absolutely nothing to wear for this event, nor the means to be properly dressed. So I called her and sheepishly asked if I could come over on Saturday and take a look at what she had and help her put an outfit together. My daughter Meghan and I showed up the next day with dressing-your-body-shape-correctly-print-outs off the internet. (I've watched enough episodes of What Not to Wear to know there is a science to this!)

Well we ended up going shopping. After a couple of stops, I began to worry. Tillie is, as she says - "healthy", and the shops we tried just did not have anything suitable for her body type. Turns out, she knew about a wonderful resale clothing shop on 7th Street just south of Indian School. They had a whole section just for plus-sized women. It was fun applying the clothing rules for Tillie and handing her in lots of outfits to try. Those rules really work, and almost everything she tried looked fantastic! We ended up getting her several outfits - all for under $70.00. We traveled on to Last Chance and found a couple pairs of shoes to finish off the ensembles.

It was fun, and we heard Tillie showed up looking amazing and was readily accepted into the Emerge AZ program. Her life is in deep change, a transformation few of us will ever go through to the extent that Tillie is posed to do. I never knew I would find such strength in such a place as the HSC. Now, I do - that's my change.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Jenny and Luke

The holidays are over yet I have been thinking about Jenny and Luke since my participation with 13Fridays on Christmas Eve. I must admit that upon approaching the CASS homeless shelter I felt a bit intimidated and overwhelmed when I saw the amount of people outside of the entry along with the 60+ visible on the campus grounds. I had uneasy feeling and a moment of uncertainty as I drove past the couple playing frisbee at the gate and the others sitting on the curbs in various groups on surrounding streets.

It was a beautiful day and the weather was perfect. Ann and other dedicated members of the project and the W.O.W. had just celebrated their Christmas Eve celebration, lunch was being served in the cafeteria and there was much commotion but it was well organized. I took a box of leftover donated items out to the lawn and proceeded to sit on the grass and situate myself with the scarves, coats, sweaters and other miscellaneous goods.

As soon as I sat down I was approached by a woman in her 60's who was curious about the items. She asked me how long I had been at the shelter and I no longer felt different or out of place. I told her I was not homeless and briefly explained the 13Fridays project and she began to help me lay out the scarfs and other items for others to use. A few minutes later a gentleman approached and was looking for a coat as it had been extremely cold the night before. The first one we tried was a bit ill fitting as it was too short in the sleeves but the next one was perfect and lined with soft black fleece. The three of us sat down and began talking. The woman, Jenny, was originally from Connecticut and had been homeless for a few months and was hoping to get back on her feet soon. She had been in an out of mental institutions as she suffered from schizophrenia so this often made her life challenging. She found a sweater with an deer in a winter forest scene embroidered on the front and told us how the scene reminded her of winters she had back east as a child. She also asked us if we were believers and proceeded to tell us about a miracle that she witnessed as a friend of hers feet were healed. Many stories were exchanged.

Luke was from Sudan and had an interesting tribal scarification design on his forehead. He was calm, soft-spoken and kind. He said he had lived in Arizona for several years. He spoke of the difficulty he had the night before sleeping outdoors in the cold. He did not have any socks so I found some in one of the bags and he chose one of the hats I made in a teal color. He thanked us and then said he needed to go find someplace to stay because he did not want to sleep outside again.

Jenny sat with Ann and I as the day closed. We continued to talk and I had one of the most relaxing afternoons I have had in a long while. When I left and said goodbye to Jenny she asked me to pray for her. I can still see her standing there... So many faces and circumstances fill the campus lawn each day. The time I shared with Jenny and Luke was a connection, although brief, that I hope to make again. Tane Clark


Today, 12/31 - New Year's Eve Day, was quiet, especially considering the huge event on Christmas Eve the week before. This is the coldest day of the year to date, and we certainly felt it.

As usual, we were to spend the first 2 hours inside with the ladies of W.O.W. Running late, I called Tilllie to give her a heads up and found her usually boisterous self on the other end of the phone, weak and really feeling under the weather. I convinced her to stay home and rest, so when I arrived, several ladies were waiting outside the room waiting for our usual fearless leader, Miss Tilllie to come. We found our way in, and had a toast to the New Year with sparkling apple cider and sparkling grape juice.

The conversation turned to all the personal items the ladies lose on a regular basis - our yarn and crochet needles for sure, bras, toiletries, all kinds of things get confiscated and thrown away. Really? I can understand the remote possibility of an aluminum crochet hook being sharpened into a dangerous object, but a bra? Come on. These women have every obstacle beyond our imagination to navigate. Really, is it necessary add this to the burden? So cold!

One reason our time is up at 11:00 inside the building called the Lodestar Day Resource Center (the LDRC) is because they close up the building between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. Certainly there must be rationale for this, but on a day like today - it is cruel to shove everyone out the door into this severe weather. So cold!

So, once our time inside was done, I moved outside and sat with a faithful knitter, Lisa Takata. We talked with a resident, Jackie. I'm going to admit it, the whole time, I'm trying to knit with gloves on (not so successful), and thinking how nice it would be to just get in my car, crank up the heat and go home. But both Lisa and I knew that just was not going to happen. For Jackie, her next relief was to get into the LDRC, the least we could do is to wait out those 2 freezing hours with her. I'm telling you - IT WAS SO COLD!

That evening, I put an extra blanket down for my dogs (inside, mind you), and put covers over my garden because of the extreme cold. I thought about my time with Jackie earlier that day and came to the disturbing realization that my dogs have more comfort than Jackie does tonight. 

Here are the new hats for today:

Jackie holding a hat made by Susan