Why 5″ by 65″?

Have you ever tried to wear something that’s too small for you? Maybe you’ve worn it in the past, but your size has changed and you put it on to find that what used to make you comfortable and confident-feeling is no longer a good fit at all. Maybe you grabbed the wrong size at the store and got home to find that there’s no hope of it fitting. Or, maybe over time and use your favorite item has shrunk. Frustrating, huh?

So, with these scarves that we are donating to survivors we want a moment of “yay, I feel good wearing this”, not a moment of “this sure is pretty, but how in the world am I supposed to wear it?”

Threads will take scarves of any color or pattern. We don’t specify how they have to look. But, we do have one requirement for our scarves. You may have noticed that they need to be at least 5ʺ by 65ʺ, and you could be wondering why…

There is a reason.

We want something that anyone can wear. Since we all are different sizes and have different style tastes, we wanted something that anyone can use if they want to after receiving it. So, while there may not be anything magical about those exact numbers, there is something important in having a standard. The work we are doing is important; it’s impacting people at a significant moment and we want to add something good and useful — not just beautiful but unable to be worn.

As we package scarves and find ourselves struggling about what to do with one that doesn’t come close to meeting that guideline we take a moment and try to put ourselves in the place of the recipient.

Imagine sitting in the hospital following a traumatic event and being offered an item of comfort. Great, right? Now imagine you open it and it’s a well-made beautiful piece of work that is 2 ½ feet long and 3 inches wide. What started as an uplifting moment turned into a moment of wondering “what in the world am I supposed to do with this item?”

So, let’s keep working together to offer comfort. Let’s put our creativity to work to knit and crochet beautiful items that survivors will enjoy. Let’s keep making them at least 5ʺ by 65ʺ.

Making Scarves in the Summer

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Yes, I’m working on a scarf on a day that it has been hot, hot, hot. The high today was 97, making it the kind of day that I try to be outside as little as possible. Yet, I continue to work on scarves for this project.

In some ways a scarf is a perfect summer project – it’s easy to move around, very portable, and doesn’t grow to a size that is uncomfortably warm to work on. It can easily be carried along on a trip and worked on when a few free moments present themselves.

In addition to being easy to work on in the summer, our scarves are needed in the summer! Last year two of the summer months saw a need for at least 50 scarves per month. Yep, 50 lives changed in less time than it takes to gather the supplies and choose a pattern for a scarf.

And, just when I wonder – should I keep crocheting scarves, should we keep packaging them and getting them to the YWCA…I come across someone who has received one or knows a recipient and they tell me how meaningful it is to receive a scarf following such a traumatic event. Knowing someone has gone before you and cares that you know you’re not alone can make a huge impact at a really tough time.

So, yes, let’s keep making scarves in the summer! They are needed now as much as anytime during the year.

Meetings in 2015

We have scheduled our meetings for the rest of 2015. They’re listed on the Events page, but also listed below in case you want a quick reference.

Everyone is welcome to join us, no matter your skill level. You can come for a few minutes or for the whole time. For details about the location, check out the Events page.

  • July 19, 2015
  • August 9, 2015
  • September 13, 2015
  • October 4, 2015
  • November 1, 2015
  • December 13, 2015

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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Dear Threads of Compassion Volunteers,

Thank you so much for all the hard work and dedication you put into making our scarves for our program. They are always received with such joy and appreciation. So Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Best Regards, Yvonne Sharp

(This is a note from Yvonne Sharp, the Director of Sexual Assault Victim Advocacy at the YWCA Oklahoma City)

It worked to start a Threads of Compassion chapter in OKC

Now that we’ve been doing Threads of Compassion OKC for over 5 years it seems like a good time to share some of what has worked for us. Over the years people from lots of places have contacted me to ask about starting their own chapter. I figure that sharing what’s worked here could be helpful for others looking for a place to begin.

For us it started because I was looking for charity ideas on the Lion Brand yarn website. I’d learned to crochet with some women at church and was really enjoying crocheting but was running out of people in need of gifts. When I saw the link to the Chicago Chapter of Threads of Compassion it was easy to see that it could be a perfect fit for me. Combining my new love of crochet with my desire to continue healing as a survivor of sexual assault and being able to offer some comfort to other survivors just seemed like a great idea.

In December of 2009 I contacted the Rape Crisis Center in Oklahoma City and asked them if they had a chapter here or had heard of it. They didn’t and hadn’t, but were interested in starting. I’ll admit it was a bit intimidating for me to make that call, but the person I talked to was very encouraging and willing to give this a try with me. So, I went for it! The first delivery was some scarves I made myself during Christmas break that year, and I recruited other friends and the project grew and grew.

I designed a card to print and put with the scarves, it is a pretty simple one and at first I printed them at Office Depot on card stock using coupons I found online. I also purchased some plastic bags from a company called ULine, those have worked out well for us. The finished scarves are folded and then a card is attached with a twist tie and put into the bag that is taped closed. It makes a nice package that stacks well for storage. You can see lots of photos of our work on our Facebook page.

We started having meetings each month, I couldn’t think of a super-creative title for them so I went with”work days”. For us Sunday afternoons has been a good time and we’re able to use a classroom at a church building. It’s a convenient location with plenty of parking and no one feels pressured to buy anything like we may if we met at a coffee shop or a store. At our work days we package completed scarves, work on new ones, share pattern ideas, and enjoy meeting others who are also working on the project.

Following the work day I make arrangements with our contact at the YWCA to deliver the scarves to them. They get them delivered and stored at the hospitals so that they are available when needed.

You can do this too! If you’re wanting to get involved in your hometown here’s what I’d recommend based on what worked for me here. It’s not an exact blueprint, but a place to begin:

  • Check with the rape crisis center to see if they’ve ever done this or know about it. If there are multiple centers in town, check with them all.
  • If there is already a chapter, join them 🙂
  • If there isn’t a chapter, then you get to decide if you want to start one. If so, here are some things to think about:
    • How long you will be in town? Is this your home or just a place you’re passing through? My undergraduate years were done in a place I don’t still live, so if that’s your situation it will be important for you to find some others who plan to be there long term to keep the program going once you leave.
    • Do you have connections to others who knit or crochet that will want to join you?
    • Do you have time to commit to creating some scarves, organizing things, dropping off scarves, and contacting others to join in?
    • You don’t have to do all of this alone, in fact it’s better done with friends!
  • Find out if the Rape Crisis Center staff wants you to do this, are they be willing and able to distribute the scarves? Developing a relationship with the person in charge of assault services at our Rape Crisis center was essential. Also, see if they can give you an idea of how many people they see each month so that you can see if you will have a way to meet the demand. Here in OKC the number when we started was 30.
  • Here in OKC at first we just gave the scarves out at the hospital when someone went in for an exam following an assault, after a couple of years we expanded that to also include people who came to the center for counseling services.
  • Recruit friends to knit and crochet with you. Having a monthly work day has been good for us, you may want to plan something like that as well.
  • Recruit help purchasing bags and cards/printing, so that you can package the finished scarves.
  • We’ve received quite a bit of yarn as donations, people who have family members that have passed away have given some as well as friends who have given me gift cards to Hobby Lobby to buy yarn have been great.
  • Having a website helped us, our site is www.threadsokc.org – my husband knows about websites and did that part for me. Even if creating a website is new to you, chances are good that you could figure it out yourself on WordPress. They’ve made the program easy to use for non-technical people and there are lots of things you can do without having to pay fees for the services.
  • In addition to the website, we also started a Facebook page. That’s been a good way to share information about our work days and to post pictures.
  • Once you’ve started don’t forget to let the Chicago Chapter know so that they can add you to their list of active chapters.

Some other things to think about that have come up over the years:

  • How to handle donations that don’t meet your requirements. Most chapters of Threads of Compassion ask that the donated scarves be at least 5″ wide and 65″ long. This size makes it possible for most people to comfortably wear the scarf if they choose to wear it.
  • How to find others to join you.
  • If you have monthly meetings, how to communicate if you have to cancel due to something like weather problems in the winter.
  • Who can help you coordinate things and update your Facebook page and website if you become unavailable.
  • Are there other ways you can be involved with your local rape crisis center? Here in OKC there is a 5K each year in April as part of sexual assault awareness month. We have a booth at the event so that we can answer questions and let others know about our group. We now also have a team in the run and some of our friends and volunteers join the race.

I’m so glad we started Threads of Compassion OKC! It has been a great thing for me, my friends, and survivors here in OKC. I hope that hearing about our experience encourages you.

Run or snooze with us

SSV_HAND_NEWBLUEYou can join us in the YWCA’s 2 Minute 5K coming up in April.

Hmm, a 5K in 2 minutes? No, we’re not expecting you to run that far that fast. The name comes from the fact that in the United States someone is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes.

This event is designed to raise awareness and funds to help survivors of sexual assault here in Oklahoma.

Like previous years you can sign up to run/walk the 5K, children can do the Kiddie K, and new for this year, you can also sign up to Snooze for SAAM (sexual assault awareness month).

If you’re not into running a 5K, snoozing for SAAM allows you to be part of our team and receive the race shirt as well as help raise awareness as you wear it and share about your participation in the event.

Please sign up online to join us if you can! The race is Saturday, April 18th at Stars and Stripes Park in OKC.

February was fun

We had a great time at our February work day!

Just like most months we packaged several scarves and had a great time visiting with one another.

The special thing this month was that we had a new person join us who wanted to learn to crochet. It was so cool to see her learn and make progress on the scarf she began. I’m thankful that we had a volunteer who has experience teaching other things and was willing to help our new person learn. It worked out great!

You can see pictures of most of the scarves we received this month in our Facebook album.

We meet each month and always welcome new volunteers. Please join us if you can.

Thanks for the reminder!

 

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A new year is a great time to be reminded that the work we are doing is making a difference. Here’s a note from an advocate who meets people at the hospital following an assault:

“Thank you for your heart felt gifts! The love you put into the scarves means so much to each one of our victims. The scarf is a reminder that they are not alone. A positive reminder they are a survivor. Thank you so much!”

YWCA Advocate

2 Scarves Received!

2 scarves received from the "Threads of Compassion Infinity Scarf - Buy One, Give One" program offered on Etsy.
2 scarves received from the “Threads of Compassion Infinity Scarf – Buy One, Give One” program offered on Etsy.

We are excited and thankful to announce that Crochet by Vanessa Rae brought 2 scarves to our last work day. These were donated in response to her offer on Etsy to buy a scarf and give a scarf. It’s such a neat program!

These 2 scarves are not only beautiful, but also very well-made. It’s nice to be able to offer such great products to our recipients. If you happen to be looking for a unique Christmas gift there is still time to order from her and donate to Threads as well as have a gift for a friend.

Santa Store

 

We have an opportunity to help the YWCA with a Christmas project.

Next month they have a Santa Store. This store is an opportunity for the families they serve to come select Christmas gifts to give their families.

If you can help volunteer at the store or are able to donate items that would make good gifts, please use the contact info below and let them know you’d like to help.

santa store

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