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!