A Prayer Shawl Ministry was started at the Washington Hospital Cancer Institute in March 2009. The ministry is non-faith based so the prayers are what each person who knits or crochets a shawls wants them to be. There are no rules so the shawls are the size, shape, yarn and color the knitter chooses as the process of making and giving a shawl is meant to be beneficial for both the make and reciever, whether they know each other or not.
Patients starting treatment for their cancer are told about the Shawl Ministry and invited to stop by the Resource Center to select a shawl or lap blanket.. The wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes often makes the selection process difficult but there is always something available to meet the recepient's preferences.
25 first shawls were blessed on June 7, 2009 as part of the National Cancer Surviors Day Celebration at the Cancer Institute. I was privileged to represent the many individuals who have contributed to the Shawl Ministry in presenting shawls to four cancer survivors. The longest survivor present - 49 years, the most recently diagnosed survivor - 6 months, the youngest survivor present - 35 years old, and the oldest survivor present - 82 years old.
A long overdue update on the activities of the Shawl Ministry. I had hoped to provide some thoughts at Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Years.... Well, we just celebrated the New Year with the Vietnamese part of my family so now is as good as time as any!
Thanks to the ongoing effort of so many of you, we have touched the lives of many patients at the Cancer Institute. Lorna and Miriam relate stories about the patients who stop by their office to select one of your gifts of love. Because of our varied likes in the colors, patterns, yarns, and methods, there has been a special item to meet each patients personal preference.
In addition to the many knit and crocheted shawls, we've received lap afghans, chemo caps, and fleece lap robes. All have been blessed at one of the monthly Sit, Knit and Crochet sessions and then available for patient selection. We also got some baby items and, after blessing, they were passed on to the neonatal ICU for the babies there.
The monthly Sit, Knit and Crochet sessions continue to be well attended with a combination of loyal supporters and newbies. It's such a pleasure to see someone who struggled to learn to cast one or chain stitch, return a month or two later with a finished shawl and ready to start another. Our virtual community continues to be a strong support to these efforts with donations of finished shawls and afghans, yarn, and money to buy supplies.
While our heartfelt thanks goes out to each and every one of you for the support you give in your individual ways, I would like to acknowledge a few special folk. There is the group of women from the local church who showed up with 15 fleece lap robes and ended up joining our monthly sessions; the lovely ladies of Helping Hands at Pickersgill Retirement Community in Towson, MD for their donation; Sis who contacts us when she has bags of lap afghans for pick-up; Arnetta, Marge, Nneka, Miriam, and Beverly for their monthly 1 -3 shawls each; and Lorna and Miriam who keep us organized.
May the New Year be filled with good health, much happiness, and the love and laughter of family and friends.
I'm not sure whether it has been because it's been so hot and we've all been cooped up in air conditioning all summer, but we have had a bountiful summer with the Shawl Ministry. There were 21 folks at the July Sit, Knit and Crochet session and 21 shawls were blessed that day.
This week only a few loyal volunteers were present but there were 25 shawls for blessing and passing on to patients. This is amazing!
The shawls seem to suddenly appear off the hooks and needles of our many volunteers. This week Beverly, Arnetta and Evelyn showed up with two each. Marge wasn't able to be there but sent in four she completed. The Helping Hands group from Pickersgill Retirement Community in Towson sent four down by way of my sister. An employee dropped off two her mother made and picked up some more yarn for her. Last month, I had lunch with some friends and one showed up with six shawls!
Lorna and Marian have shared stories with us of the patients, both men and women, who come into the Resource Center to select their shawls or lap blankets. The feedback has been wonderful for the volunteers and keeps us all going.
Check out the recent pictures and see some of the volunteers and many of the donated shawls. A few of the volunteers are even modeling their contributions.
It's hard to believe that we started the Prayer Shawl Ministry over a year ago. The first shawls were blessed at Cancer Survivors' Day in June last year and since that time over 100 patients have been blessed with shawls made by the many volunteers who support the program. I've added some pictures of recent activities to keep you up to date.
It will be hard to calculate how many volunteers have participated as their contributions have varied. There are the many knitters and crocheters whose donation of time and talent ends up on the table each month to be blessed. There are the loyal volunteers who spread their knowledge through teaching those interested who are either new needle work or need a refresher. Then there are the Ravelry friends at Knitters and Crocheters Care and Fans of FibreSpace who help to keep us stocked in yarn. And then there is Lorna who coordinates the efforts at the hospital.
Our friends at Fibre Space, a yarn store in Alexandria, recently hosted a Speed Knitting Contest to benefit the Avon Foundation which helps to support women with Cancer. They donated the beautiful chemo caps made that day which were blessed at the May Sit and Knit session and then given to patients in the Infusion Center. Through this friendship, we also received a generous donation of yarn (14 large trash bags full!!). I can't even calculate how many shawls and afghans this wonderful yarn will make. And what can't be used will be passed on to other charities supported by Knitters and Crocheters Care. No yarn will go to waste!
Many thanks to everyone who supports the program in your own special way.
Dear Chris, Thank you for your email and welcome to the circle of shawl makers. Congratulations on all the wonderful work you are doing for your cancer center! I'm certain that the patients and their families appreciate the peace and comfort that a prayer shawl can offer. I had a chance to see your web site on Shutterfly and it looks great! Regarding your concern over our link on your site - I see it. Just below your 'Guest Book' comment area, there is a heading marked "Favorite Sites". Thank you for adding us! Let me know if you'd like me to add your link to our Shawl Links page.
You're welcome to share the information from our site www.shawlministry.com with your group for private use. You can help folks in your immediate group who do not have computers by providing them with a 'private use - as written' copy of the materials. Make sure you include the website address: www.shawlministry.com on the hand-out. For group members with computers and for people wanting to learn more about the prayer shawls, such as your readers, please invite them to obtain copies on their own by visiting our website. Due to copyrights, the materials from our site are for 'private use' use only and not for public display or public distribution.
Thank you for your support of this ministry. Both Janet and I wish you and your prayer shawl makers blessings as you reach out to serve others through this spiritual practice. You're making tangible, comforting gifts from your hearts and hands that will embrace people and make a special difference in their lives. May the blessings flow back to you all threefold!
Threefold Blessings, Vicky
Best wishes to everyone for a healthy and happy 2010! 2009 was challenging for so many of us and my wish is that the new year / new decade finds each of you surrouneded by the love and laughter of your family and friends.
In reflecting on the past year, it is wonderful to contemplate how many lives have been touched by this shawl ministry. There is a whole virtual community of knitters and crocheters who have contributed shawls, yarn, needles, encouragement and support. The Sit and Knit sessions have brought together a new community of folks which has included patients, employees, and volunteers where we have shared our stories and our skills. The combined efforts has touched the hearts and hands of close to 80 patients in the less than nine months since we started on this journey. Thank you is not an adequate word to express the gratitude for your efforts!
Now that the holiday season is behind us and we hunker down in this cold month, it's time to turn our hands and minds to our projects. This cold winter days are perfect to curl up in your favorite spot and pull out your needles or hook. The shawls will keep you warm as you work on them and that warmth will be passed on to the patient who wraps it around them as they receive their treatments.
On last count, there are about 20 shawls on hand from which the patients can choose. We would love to increase the options so please think of us as you pull out your yarn. You can also pass on information about the ministry to your friends, families, co-workers who might be interested in participating in this rewarding project.
My very best to each and every one of you,
This time of year is one of reflections and thanksgiving and I want to take the time to thank so many people who have given their time and talents to the shawl ministry over the past several months. Your kindness has touched the hearts of many patients and helped to brighten their days as they have wrapped themselves in the work of your hands.
The ways you have contributed have been many and varied. From some it has been simply your encouragement and support which has been helpful and has kept us going. Others have done hands on teaching for those just starting their creative journey. Some have spread the word of our project and others have donated supplies. And then there are the knitters and crocheters. You have made over a hundred shawls and lap robes for people you will never meet but whom you have touched very deeply.
There are a few people who deserve a special thanks. Lorna and Miriam deserve a special hug for their work to keep the program organized. They are also the lucky ones who get to help the patients select their shawl and then drape it over their shoulders. Thanks also to the many volunteers at the Sit and Knit sessions. Sue, Aylin, Evelyn, Arnetta, Linda, Nneka, Lynne, Carolyn, Marge, Barbara, Barrie, and so many others who come when they can. You have not only worked on your own shawls but you have helped so many new to the craft get started. You have a special talent and share it so willingly! Thanks as well to JR whose donation helped to sponsor several shawls.
There are the Ravelry friends - ClarieLeah who moderates the Knitters and Crocheters Care group which has donated yarn and attracted several of the knitters and ChiaoGooLady whose company donated needles. Snookums who sent a shawl and the Prayer Shawl group who offers encouragement and ideas.
And then those of you who use your hands....Marge, Bev, MaryJo, Katie, Carolyn, Katherine, Janis, Kenda, Carole, Anne, Barbara, Cinnamon and so many other friends, relatives, and even their friends and relatives. Each shawl has been unique and carries with it a bit of the person who made it. The variety is awesome and much appreciated by the patients who have such a wide choice of colors, shapes and sizes from which to pick.
Myself, I have been blessed by the whole experience. Your friendship and generosity have been overwhelming and so very much appreciated.
The July Sit and Knit was a very rewarding experience for all those who were able to make the session. Linda Fisher, the chaplain for the Cancer Institute, was there to bless 17 shawls that had been donated since we last met. Following her blessing, a young patient who is being treated for stage 3 ovarian cancer was presented with a shawl she selected.
The donor had sent a note to the recipient who shared it with us and I don't think there was a dry eye in the group. A ravelry friend, dc knit diva, who was at the session said that, although she had made lots of prayer shawls over the years, she had never seen one presented personally and would be sure to include a note with all future shawls. The patient and her friend both stayed for the session and left with needles and yarn to make shawls themselves.
It was fun looking at the many different patterns, sizes, shapes and yarns of the shawls. There was a beautiful teal lap robe and others with beads and ribbons in the fringe right along with those using traditional patterns and yarn that were soft and cuddly. Each one unique and special - just like the person who made it. One of our regular volunteers, Sue Hansen, has designed the "Trinity by Three Comfort Shawl" pattern for the ministry. I'll post on this site when I get an electronic version.
Our original intent when we started the Shawl Ministry at the Hospital Center was to make them for patients with gynecological cancers. Following the presentations of shawls at Cancer Survivors' Day, there have been requests for shawls from patients in other categories. The folks at the Cancer Institute are looking at ways to distribute to those who request them.
The underlying message for us is the demand is high so keep on knitting and crocheting.
A very special thanks to each and every one of you who has supported this ministry in your own way.
I attended the monthly Busy Hands gathering at Pickersgill in Towson, MD on Wednesday to talk about the shawl ministry. They heard about our work through my mother who is a resident there and wanted to know more about the Cancer Institute and the project. Two of the members, one a resident and the other a local volunteer, were familiar with the Hospital Center as each had a family member who had successful heart surgery there.
The group has been doing charity knitting for some time. They have been donating premie caps to Hopkins and items to sell at the Fall Festival at Pickersgill to support the community. It was such a pleasure to spend time with them and to get their commitment to make shawls for our project. I walked away with a shawl that one member made 30 years ago which had been stored in her cedar chest waiting for the right recepient. I assured her that we would find the right woman who will treasure it.
Always a helping hand for those new to the craft and encouragement for the rest of us...