Featured Volunteer Ruth Dawson
Soon after retiring almost seven years ago, I signed up for all sorts of activities. In fact, I quickly became overcommitted. The classes are great, the travel is fun, the grandchildren are growing, the exercise is essential, the meetings worthwhile, but there was something missing that even involvement in my faith community has not filled - that sense of giving back that is a very real part of who I am as a person. The Preemie Project came into existence at just the right time for me. I heard about it through the Senior Center (though I missed the orientation session). When I contacted Laura, she quickly got me set up with ideas, patterns, and people to contact. And I discovered I could knit in meetings! I began by using up bits and pieces of yarn left over from projects of my own. Some of the yarns turned out not to be acceptable for the delicate preemies. Then I learned which yarns and needles work best for smaller sizes and began to create a few patterns of my own or adapted those supplied by other knitters. I have been at it sporadically over the past two and a half years (I tend to knit more in the winter), mostly doing hats and booties. It is truly fun to see how many combinations of colors, textures, and sizes can be made from any one pattern. I consider each stitch a prayer for the health of the tiny recipient. Sometimes I have been able to assist with the distribution of the donations at UIHC. It is great meeting other volunteers and some of the nurses who care for the babies in NICU and PICU. We’ve learned a lot about the special needs of these precious ones.
When college students volunteered to knit without knowing how, I answered Laura’s call for a knitting class last year and in only a few sessions we were able to add some younger knitters to our ranks. Later a sorority asked for the same assistance and we did a blitz course just before end of the school year. Hopefully some of them are still knitting!
Many thanks to Laura for her creative ideas, her drive, her leadership and her vision to make this a truly successful and rewarding venture for all of us.