Volunteer Spotlight Archives

A group such as The Preemie Project would be nothing without a dedicated group of volunteers. We feel lucky to have so many amazing people from all walks of life trying to help our organization. With each newsletter, we try to highlight different volunteers. This is the archive of those highlights. To each of you, please accept our heartfelt 'thanks.'

Darlene Welsh

Darlene Welsh

Featured Volunteer Darlene Welsh

October 2009 Iowa Chapter Volunteer Spotlight
By Cathy Kaman Ryan, TPP Volunteer and Newsletter Contributor

Please meet this month’s Iowa Volunteer, Darlene Welsh.  A lifelong resident of Iowa, she was born in Oelwein, Iowa, spending her early years on a farm.  When her family (including her one brother) moved to Strawberry Point, she attended country grade school through eighth grade and thereafter graduated from Strawberry Point High School.  After graduating, Evelyn moved to Waterloo, Iowa and began her secretarial career working for the Rath Packing Company.  That was followed by stints at Equitable of Iowa, Hawkeye Community College and finally the City of Waterloo until her retirement in December of 1999.

Along the way, she was married in 1958 and widowed in 1994.  She has two sons, one daughter and two granddaughters.  Just recently she moved into an independent living apartment in Marion, Iowa where she is enjoying a whole host of new friends and the carefree lifestyle that no longer requires her to tend to the upkeep of a house. 
Darlene learned to knit and sew in Home Economics in high school and is self-taught at crochet.  For many years she has been a contributor to the Christmas At Sea charity that donates hats, scarves, vests, etc. to the merchant marines.  Her handiwork also finds its way to her church bazaars and used to be part of private craft sales which she used to hold.  But the private sales became too much for her causing her to seek another outlet for her hand made items. 

While visiting the Beads and Beyond store in Cedar Rapids sometime in 2005, Darlene came across information about The Preemie Project and saw some of its patterns.  That sparked her interest and she started to attend the sewing meetings at Laura Aker’s house.  She was hooked and has been contributing to TPP since then.  Darlene loves the good feeling that she gets when she is able to make something that will be used by someone else who may not be able to make such an item.
Wall hangings are a very special favorite for Darlene’s sewing talents.  For the past several years she has spent the winters in Texas accompanied by her hobbies and her sewing machine.  Take a look at her wonderful picture attached to this article.  The flag shown behind her was entered into last year’s county fair in Bay City, Texas and captured first place and the Grand Champion ribbon of the division.  Wow!!  What incredible talent!!
Darlene is also a member of the American Sewing Guild and has taken the scraps of fabric generated from guild members and created pet pillows, stuffing the fabric remnants into pillows made of upholstery fabric.  She now is the recipient of scraps from sewing weekends for the Preemie Project and cuts and pieces the fleece scraps into blanket tops.  The smaller pieces are stuffed inside the pet pillows.  A whirlwind, she recently turned in fifty-two blankets crafted in this talented way.  Leftover flannel is used to make toys.  She does her best to waste no fabric.

We are so fortunate to have Darlene as one of our treasured volunteers!


Read More About Darlene Welsh

Evelyn Fagley

Evelyn Fagley

Featured Volunteer Evelyn Fagley

October 2009 Michigan Chapter Volunteer Spotlight
By Cathy Kaman Ryan, TPP Volunteer and Newsletter Contributor

Our October Volunteer Spotlight shines this month on Michigan’s Evelyn Fagley.  Having moved to Midland, Michigan from Cleveland in 1950, Evelyn gave up her job in a bank after the move to Michigan to stay home and raise her children.  Having been married for 63 years, she has three daughters and a son.  With everyone grown, Evelyn and her husband focus much attention on their cat, “LBJ” (which stands for “Large Black Jack”).  Her affection for animals extends beyond LBJ to her knitting “snuggles” (small cat blankets) for various animal charities. 

Since Evelyn’s mother did not knit, Evelyn learned to knit at the hands of her cousins years ago after they had learned from their grandmother.  With her daughters having attended Michigan State and her son having studied at the University of Michigan, she has now been trying her hand at knitting in their school colors.  Her green and white hats and booties honor the State affiliation.  The U of M’s colors of maize and blue also are used to fashion warm, cozy booties and hats.  She gets a little extra knitting time in when she convinces her husband to be the “chef” for the evening. 

Evelyn’s knitting needles have been clicking away for years and she enjoys knitting while watching television, in particular, sports such as baseball and football.  She is highly accomplished at knitting hats and booties but has made little animal blankets and other treasures.  She also enjoys quilting and has made blankets for various children’s charities.  Two of her daughters are also knitters and she was introduced to TPP from one of them.  Evelyn’s heart is as large as her beloved cat and she notes that “It’s nice to help people by knitting caps and booties to keep the babies warm, and the hospitals really appreciate it.“

Thanks to Evelyn for her devoted contributions.  TPP is most appreciative.


Read More About Evelyn Fagley

Carol O’Neill

Carol O’Neill

Featured Volunteer Carol O’Neill

Aloha to Carol O’Neill, a wonderful woman who earns the June Spotlight as TPP’s Michigan Volunteer.  She has faced tough personal challenge, taken the lemons that life has handed her and made delightful lemonade.  And while someone less strong with less spirit and passion might have been daunted, Carol makes it all happen with grace and style.

You would never know it but our Michigan Spotlighted Volunteer just turned seventy years young.  Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in New Jersey, Carol spent most of her married life in Virginia.  When her husband died from a sudden heart attack in 1996, her world changed in an instant.  Three years later she met a widower online.  After six months and lots of long distance phone calls, she went to Hawaii to visit him and that visit turned into a permanent stay.  Carol is now semi-retired, working as a freelance copy editor for Penguin Books.

Carol is a multi-talented knitter and crocheter and loves making matched sets of crocheted caps and knitted booties.  She’s also knit bereavement sacques for preemies and is a valued contributor to TPP fundraisers.  Every item is sent with blessings and lots of aloha!!

Hawaii does not have much of a tradition of or appreciation for knitting or crocheting so Carol went hunting for an organization that could use those crafted items which she loves creating.  TPP was chosen because it seemed so well organized and because of its good work.  Carol started contributing to the Michigan chapter since she lived in Dearborn in the early 1960’s and has such fond memories of that time.

This extraordinary woman finds four or five hours just about every evening to create her beautiful treasures while she is usually watching television.  (She loves baseball).  And she finds enormous pleasure in being helpful to TPP’s tiny babies while creating crafts that provide her with so much enjoyment.  Her giving spirit, her terrific determination to meet difficult personal challenges and to grow from them and her talented creativity combine to make Carol O’Neill one terrific woman and one incredible volunteer for TPP.


Read More About Carol O’Neill

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