Walking the Labyrinth
Roses on the path,
Clean shiny stone,
Color splashed across the floor.
All this and more
Make up the journey
Of the labyrinth.
Pioneers of Peace™ is the humanitarian arm of Barbara Scoville, LCSW. Did you know there is a designated blog that chronicles our adventures? To find out more, Read Pioneers of Peace’s latest blog article “When an Empty Basket is a Good Thing” and consider becoming a regular follower.
I am a “Compassionate Knitter” Newbie
Throughout my adult life I have heard stories about “Compassionate Knitting,” otherwise known as “Charity Knitting.” I’ve been touched by people’s kindness and their willingness to use their time to benefit others, but until recently I have never wanted to participate.
My own knitting has been primarily “me” focused. There are a number of reasons why.
1. My knitting time is very precious to me; there never is enough.
2. There are so many beautiful things I want to knit for myself; my eyes are bigger than my stomach.
3. The tactile experience of fine yarn is therapeutic to me. Compassionate knitting usually requires acrylic yarn that can stand a lot of abuse.
4. I knit several sweaters for my mother until I discovered she had no idea how much expense and work went into them. Although I’m sure she was grateful, her negative comments regarding sleeve length and fit in general are what I remember.
5. The several projects I already have in progress compete with each other. They whisper, “Finish me,” “No finish me,” Me first, you spent so much money on me.”
6. I simply have not taken the time to deeply think about other’s suffering, and how my talent could ease their burden.
7. To be perfectly honest, I do think about suffering a lot. As a clinical social worker my life is immersed in suffering. Knitting is the counter balance, my creative renewal that I hold sacred.
Having said that, inspired by my friend Warren last Spring, I have become an initiate in the community of compassionate knitters.
Really quick…the back-story…
A couple of months ago Warren approached me while at our Friday morning knitting group, and asked if I could find a home for several hats he had knit in an attempt to use up his stash. At the time I was in the middle of organizing a diaper drive for our local refugee population. I said sure and it was agreed that we would meet at our local gym where he would give them to me. The following Monday morning we met at 6:55am and I was given two grocery bags stuffed full of warm hand knit hats. They weren’t just physically warm; they were emotionally warm. When I got home and looked at them spread out on my kitchen table I felt the physical manifestation of kindness and charity.
Acts of Kindness are Contagious
Warren’s goodness made me want to be a better person. I immediately thought about 2 hats that have been on the needles for over 2 years. It wouldn’t take long to finish them and then I could make his pile even larger. My next thought was of my own stash and the fact that rather than sitting in a drawer it could be sitting on someone’s head keeping them warm. I finished knitting the two hats in a couple of days, which brings me to Lesson #2
Compassionate Knitting isn’t as Time Consuming as I Thought it Would be.
After completing the two hats, and feeling pretty good about “finishing something” I thought about other kinds of hats. My daughter’s cousin through marriage had sadly just lost a premature baby. Preemie Hats! After hearing all about the tragedy in this family, I had a desire to offer love and support for those going through such difficult times. I found a wonderful free pattern, went to the store and bought very soft baby yarn. Knitting preemie hats is like eating potato chips. They are so cute and fun to knit that I couldn’t just stop at one. They only take about half a day to knit. How do you spell immediate gratification?
Because they are so easy they are the perfect project to take with you when you are anticipating a wait. I love that I am doing something worthwhile during the time that I used to think was being wasted.
Using up Stash is Good, but a Worthy Excuse to Buy Yarn is Better
Buying yarn brings me joy 🙂 Walking into rooms filled with fiber and color are like Shangri-La. The only problem is that I have enough yarn to keep me busy until I die. However, if I have a nobel purpose, I can justify additional purchases. I love chatting with shop owners and their staff about the perfect yarn choice for my compassionate projects and I feel really good about supporting our local yarn purveyors.
Small Compassionate Knitting Projects Provide Opportunities to Learn New Techniques and Stitches
Interested in trying a new technique or stitch? A hat can double as a swatch. I learned how to cast off and then pick up purlwise to create a beautiful effect.
Small projects are great opportunities to practice designing which can later be applied to larger projects.
Compassionate Knitting Attracts People who Feel Empowered to Make a Difference
There is some controversy about whether compassionate knitting is truly helpful. Where do all of the hats, scarfs, mittens, blankets, socks, and dog sweaters go? While organizing POP’s Operation Love Bundles, I was specifically told not to contribute hand knit scarfs. Homeless youth prefer fleece. I have heard stories about the countless hats, scarves, and fleece blankets being warehoused at our local charitable distribution centers. Are compassionate knitters naive? Could their time and resources be put to more effective ways of relieving suffering? Or are they choosing to make their voice and their hearts heard through the clicking of their needles? I don’t have an answer.
What I do know is that I am currently participating in compassionate knitting because I like being connected to people who spend a portion of their time using their talent to make a difference in someone’s life. That’s an attribute I admire. It reinforces my belief that there is more good than bad.
If You Ask, Some will Come and Some will Run
For close to 4 years now, I have been asking others to join me in charitable causes. Nothing is harder than asking people to give of their time and resources. It’s a boundary issue. Most will decline, but there are those who are looking for opportunities to make a difference. It is wonderful to see those individuals and groups rise to the surface and contribute. Even though I may not know them well, it feels like a joyous reunion with kindred spirits. Combine that feeling with knitting and it becomes intoxicating.
Compassion and Gratitude go Hand in Hand
Warren told me he knits the cuff of his hats to match twice the length of his ears. Doing this provides a double cuff which maximizes the warmth the hat can provide. He wasn’t just using up his stash. Warren knows what it feels like to be outside in the cold all day. It was his job. He told me he used to knit hats for the men on his crew so they could better brave the winter.
When I knit preemie hats I wanted them to be soft and adorable. I imagine their mothers faces when they see their babies in the isolate wearing a strawberry on their head or a big beautiful flower.
Currently I’m knitting women’s summer chemo hats. I actually went to Sally’s Beauty Supply and bought a wig head so that I could block the hats as well as see how attractive they would be on a bald head.
I did some research and learned that hats with holes are not a good idea for the summer. Soft cottons and cotton acrylic blends are preferable. I gave each skein of yarn the neck and under the chin test for softness. I thought about cloches vs beanies, and brims to keep the sun off the face and the neck. I thought about hats to sleep in, learning that even summer nights could be chilly for a bald head on chemo drugs. Above all I wanted the hats I knitted to be beautiful because if I were sick that’s what I would want.
And that’s my point. “Compassionate knitting” has ignited my compassion. I took the time to put myself in someone else’s shoes. Of course I can’t know what a person with cancer is feeling, but I’m a little closer and if nothing else, in my own way I’m saying you’re not alone.
As I touch the suffering in the world in this small way I am reminded of what I have to be grateful for and savor those things a little bit more and therein lies the magic. I see the suffering and can say, “There but for the grace of God go I.” For this round I’m safe, but I know it’s coming as it has and always will, and I hope I won’t be alone.
Diversity Applies to Giving Also
There are as many ways to give as there are stars in the sky and they are all beautiful.
Who is the Giver and Who is the Receiver? That is the Question
The answer: It is one continuous round. At it’s best, the lines are very hard to define and that’s what I’ve gotten caught up in. Right now, my love for knitting and giving have become a Venn diagram; the middle circle, where the two overlap is creating an energy that’s just feels really good. I am definitely on the “receiving end.”
In the next couple of days I will share with you yarn choices and patterns for summer women’s chemo hats If you are interested in contributing, I will be taking the completed projects to Huntsman Cancer Center the 1st of August.
Drop-off locations are:
Me-You know where to find me
Blazing Needles, 1365 South 1100 East SLC, Ut 84105
Unraveled Sheep, 9316 South 700 East Sandy, Ut 84070
Knitting Pretty, 1393 West 9000 South West Jordan, Ut 84088
Sending love your way,
Kudos to Sandra Ronca aka Sloucheybee on Ravelry and her charity knitting group “Craft Around Corners” Sandra is sporting her newly knit chemo hat.
Here it is the beginning of May and I am just now posting about our hugely successful POP Diapers, Wipes, and Onesies Drive that took place throughout the month of March. Please forgive me for the delay… Continue reading
Picture courtesy of the Utah Refugee’s Center
The humanitarian arm of Barbara Scoville LCSW, Pioneers of Peace™ is back on the ground walking, not just talking. This time we are turning our efforts towards the 60,000 refugees from Burundi, Bhutan, Burma, Somali, Karen, Chin, Ethiopia, Iraq, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somali Bantu and Sudan who are currently living in Utah. We have learned from Deb Coffey at the Utah Refugee’s Center, that there is a never-ending need for diapers, wipes and onesies.
As I have talked with moms everywhere, this is a shortage most can relate to. The necessity to keep our young ones clean and dry coupled with the high cost to do so, hits very close to home.
Remember when you ran out of diapers and all the stores were closed?
Remember when you only had one diaper left and no money to buy more?
Remember when you had to choose between money for food, or money for diapers?
Remember when your baby had a poopy bottom and you didn’t have a diaper to change him?
Remember when your baby’s diaper was so heavy it was falling off?
Now… imagine coming to a new country for refuge.
A refugee, by definition, is someone who, “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his or her nationality and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
Translation: A refugee is a person who left his or her country of origin and is unable to return due to persecution based on religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.
Imagine being in a new country with a new language and having to rely on what others are willing to share with you. That may be hard to fathom for some people, but it is not hard to imagine being the mother or father of a baby that you can’t provide diapers for. What would you do?
Pioneers of Peace™ feels deeply about helping to ease this burden and are therefore hosting a “Diaper, Wipes, and Onesies Drive” during the month of March.
Please join us in helping parents care for their children by contributing:
If you or your business would like to be a drop-off location please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Current drop-off locations are located at:
Mountain States Counseling, 5635 South Waterbury Way Suite C-202, SLC, UT 84121
We would like to especially thank Cynthia Mills at Blazing Needles located at 1365 South 1100 East for supporting this effort by being a drop-off location. Not only will you have the joy of making a difference in our community, but you will be treated to a color and fiber explosion that will delight your senses.
All contributions will be donated to the Utah Refugee Center
May you always find your cup half full 🙂
If you haven’t checked out the humanitarian arm of Barbara Scoville LCSW, take a peek at the website www. pioneersofpeace.org. This site, created by myself is designed to cultivate compassion and provide opportunities to give back to your community and the world. There is a wonderful synergy that takes place in the space between giver and receiver. I hope you are making room for it in your life because it is the energy that gives rise to resilience and wisdom.
Essentially we are collecting needed items for our homeless youth to brave the impending cold weather. In Salt Lake City alone, there are over 500 homeless youth, many who are sleeping on the streets and in the canyons.
Our goal is to assemble 200 “Love Bundles” and donate them to VOA Homeless Youth Resource Center by Oct 22.
Each bundle consists of
We are asking for donations of hand warmers, new socks, protein bars and handmade fleece scarfs.
While you are out shopping this weekend please remember our homeless youth and throw a package of one of these items in your cart.
Contact me at barbarascoville@pioneersofpeace. org for drop off locations.
Anna Stapley, Center Coordinator VOA Homeless Youth Resource Center, Charity, Compassion, Happiness, Homeless Youth Resource Center, Humanitarian Programs, Kindness, Maya Angelou, POP Operation Love Bundles, Quality of life, Target, Volunteers of America
I sat down at my desk, opened my computer, and while I was waiting for WordPress to load, I lifted my eyes from the screen to look out the window. The wind chimes hanging by my back door were singing, as were the birds, and I beheld the beautiful sunrise pictured above. A perfect Valentine’s Day morning.
Aside from the picturesque sky, I can attest to “There is beauty all around.” That phrase is from a popular hymn that continues with… “when there’s love at home.”
Maya Angelou said ” I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself”
Yesterday finally arrived. We loaded up seven over-sized Target bags holding two hundred “POP Love Bundles,” and delivered them to Volunteers of America (VOA) Homeless Youth Resource Center.
We were welcomed by a lovely young man who offered to help us carry the heavy bags inside. Once inside, we saw food for the taking lining the shelves. We met Anna Stapley the program coordinator and she took us on a tour of this amazing facility.
When they say “Homeless Youth Resource Center,” they aren’t kidding! From the outside, the building looks quite small. When you walk in, the space feels cramped…but just you wait; as we began touring we felt like one of the below:
There were shelves holding large bins of hygiene supplies, baby supplies, food, clothing, shoes, backpacks, blankets, dress clothes for job interviews, sleeping bags and much more.
There were two computers, seven showers, a large open area that I think doubled for serving meals and holding groups.
The center is open:
Mon – Fri 9:15 am- 1 pm (drop in-center)
Mon – Fri 9 am – 5 pm (appointment only or drop donations)
Breakfast served: Mon-Fri 9:15 am – 9:45 am
Lunch served: Mon-Fri 1- 1:30 pm
Dinner served: Friday only 4-4:30 pm
Different groups offered include: Art group, Get an I.D., Horizonte Group (GED and education), Yoga Group, Music Group, Haircut and a Movie Group, Homeless Court (for kids with legal problems), Zine Group (run by the Community Writing Center) and two other groups for talking about what’s on your mind and learning new skills.
…and the services continue…case managers helping youth get connected to community resources, job interviewing skills, assistance for obtaining new social security cards (remember, you can’t get a job without a social security card,) and so much more that I can’t even begin to do it justice. I can’t remember the exact ratio of full time employees to volunteers but I do know there are 20 who give their time freely to help vulnerable youth get stabilized.
Volunteers of America’s mission statement is:
Volunteers of America, Utah is a ministry of service organized to reach and uplift those in greatest need and to provide opportunities to experience the joy of serving others.
We at Pioneers of Peace resonate with that sentiment wholeheartedly.
Right now I wish you could feel what is inside my heart. Take a moment and try to imagine the feeling of seeing so much good being done for so many vulnerable people and then on top of that, add all of the effort on everyone’s part to make POP Operation Love Bundles possible.
We would like to thank each one of you who contributed to the success of this project. From cheering us on, to sending positive energy and prayers and sharing our goals, to financial support, making scarves, buying fabric, socks, protein bars and lip balm. Thank you for writing quotes on paper cranes and then lovingly folding them, and also the actual assembling of the love bundles; We say…THANK YOU! WITHOUT YOUR SUPPORT WE COULDN’T HAVE DONE IT. We have all walked, not just talked.
Our rough calculations show that together we spent $1,030.00 and served 100+ hours for POP Operation Love Bundles. Well done everyone!
Our goal was to let our homeless youth know they are not forgotten. We hope in some small way we fulfilled Maya Angelou’s beautiful quote.
” I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself”
Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone XOXO
I was running late already, but when I turned left instead of right my fate was sealed. As I approached the library in a harried state, I saw a young man hanging out close to where I was going to park my car. Is this safe, I questioned.
No time to worry now; just park the car and get everything inside. Everyone will be arriving soon; we have booked the library for two hours. Will everybody show up? … and the big question, will we be able to assemble 200 love bundles in that amount of time?
Everyone did show up. We folded the scarves in half length wise and laid them out across the conference table. It was kind of like making Giada De Laurentiis’s lasagna roll ups. First the scarf, then a layer of socks, next a layer of hand warmers, and on top of that a protein bar. Alongside the protein bar, lip balm, and then the piece de resistance, a paper crane containing the most important spice; an inspirational quote. Roll that all up nice and neat and tie it with a piece of raffia. Viola a “Love Bundle.”
Someone was singing “Rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin”, there were other songs from the Lion King, and comments like, “I am rocking these love bundles,” and “Make sure you blow a kiss into each one of these babies.” We talked about the TV show Blacklist, catching fireflies when we were kids and Moulin Rouge. Each team member disclosed their signature strengths and opportunities and at one point, someone said, “I feel really close to you guys right now.” It was hard to tell if the comment was playful or dare I say sarcastic, but personally… I felt like I had 6 new best friends.
Because of all the frivolity I don’t recall when I first noticed, but I saw that the boy who was standing by my parking place had moved inside. He was sitting on a chair that made it possible for him to see everything we were doing. Throughout the two and a half hours we were there, my eye would catch him, and I was reminded he was there.
What’s he doing? Something is not right. At times I couldn’t tell if he was sleeping or just slumped over playing on his phone. Is he homeless? Is he waiting for someone? Does he just like hanging out at the library?
And then I would be carried away in the friendly atmosphere of new found friends who on their own time, chose to come together to make a difference in the lives of homeless adolescents.
Someone once posed a question similar to this, “If a star appeared in the sky that held some great significance: would you see it?” I’ve thought a lot about that question over the past month and have wondered if I would.
About an hour and a half into assembling “Operation Love Bundles,” I walked out into the hall and approached the young man. I said, “Just hanging out at the library today?” He didn’t look up at me, but said in a flat voice, “Yeah.” I said, “You’ve been sitting here a long time.” Again, without looking up, he said “Yeah.”
I walked back into the assembly room wondering if I should do anything more.
To make a long story short, I didn’t. We finished the project and ended with so much oxytocin floating through the room, it was intoxicating. Thank you’s and promises of working together again on a charitable cause carried us out to our cars.
Out to our cars… As we were loading up 7 oversized Target bags containing 200 love bundles, I noticed the boy standing in the same place he was standing when I drove up. What is he doing I asked myself again. Should I do something? Should I give him a love bundle? Should I ask him if he is okay?
I drove away.
Today is February 9. We are dropping the bundles off at HYRC on the 13th. We are experiencing a record breaking heat wave in Salt Lake City. Our love bundles were created to let homeless youth know they are not forgotten and to keep them warm on cold nights. Participation on this project has been overwhelming. Many have walked, not just talked and for that, we at Pioneers of Peace are so grateful. We know there is a magical synergy that takes place between the giver and the receiver, and all are measurably edified…and that’s what Pioneers of Peace is all about.
But as I reflect back on “Assembly Day,” I can’t help but think I missed the star. If I could have a do-over, at the very least, I would call up my courage and try harder to engage the young man. Perhaps I would’ve asked him to help us. What is the irony in putting together 200 love bundles in the middle of a heat wave when there might have been 1 with us from start to finish, and we did nothing.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” `Maya Angelou
To that young man, I say, “I am so sorry. I will do better next time.”
We are in the thick of making POP Project Love Bundles a reality and I have been moved to share some thoughts and impressions with you.
In case you weren’t aware, homeless youth in Salt Lake City do not have a shelter to stay in at night. Up until recently it was illegal to house adolescents. Fortunately that law has changed and a shelter is being built, but it will not be open until next year.
Volunteers of America has a Homeless Youth Resource Center, where kids can stay during the day and receive meals. Many of the youth are camping throughout the city and the foothills, so HYRC has a mobile unit (a van) in which they deliver much needed resources to the youth as well as connect them to multiple resources.
Last year, HYRC served 647 youth, having a total of 23,768 contacts, They dispersed 102,422 basic need items, made 3,766 referrals and provided 789 care coördination hours meaning they sat down one on one to discuss treatment services etc.
Pioneers of Peace, along with Target and other community angels are teaming up to make a difference in these adolescents lives this Valentine’s Day. We have initiated what we fondly refer to as “POP Project Love Bundles” in which we are providing: a handmade fleece scarf, a set of hand warmers, a new pair of socks, lip balm, a protein or granola bar, and a paper crane complete with a handwritten quote. These items are all rolled up and then tied with raffia; hence a “love bundle.” Our goal this year is to give 200 bundles.
The response has been wonderful! We have enough scarfs, hand warmers, granola and protein bars, but we are still in need of socks.
Pioneers of Peace, has created our own brand of lip balm that we will be selling using the Tom’s Shoes business model, One for One. In other words when you buy a tube of lip balm for yourself, you will be providing a tube for a homeless youth. We hope you will support our cause by stocking up on our fantastic, hip, SPF-15 lip balm that will soon be available.
Now for some thoughts…
One of my earliest memories is that of my dad sitting me down around Valentine’s Day to tell me I mustn’t neglect to give everyone in my class a Valentine. As I was decorating my shoe box/Valentine’s Mailbox, he told me the story of an awkward little girl in his elementary school that didn’t receive any Valentine’s from her classmates. He vividly remembered the pain and tears on her face and every year forward he made sure to give her a Valentine. My dad taught me to not forget the forgotten.
Last week I was at Costco where I overheard a common, but unpleasant exchange between a mother and a 10ish year old boy. The mother was obviously at her wits end and her son had done something that she apparently had told him to stop. It was at that point that I entered the scene and heard these screaming words leave her lips…
“Stop it!!! I’ve told you and told you to stop it! What’s the matter with you? Are you stupid?!!!
My heart broke as I heard those words and especially when I looked at the boys face.
A conversation with my son…
Last week I was on the phone talking to my son who lives in Korea. Somewhere in our conversation I told him about “Project Love Bundles.” His response was very positive and supportive. He said, maybe next year you can do it in November because it gets really cold outside. That way they could use the scarves longer. He then went on to tell me about VOA’s HYRC, and said I should call the local public radio stations to get the word out. I reminded him that HYRC is the agency we are working with and then the conversation turned to another topic.
That particular son left home at 18 under not so favorable circumstances. That was 18 years ago and he is now a certified teacher and Dean of Student Affairs at an international school in Korea. After hanging up the phone, I wondered how he knew so much about the Homeless Youth Resource Center and how cold it gets at night when you’re homeless.
How do these thoughts come together? I’m not exactly sure, but I do know this.
I want the homeless youth of Salt Lake City to know they are not forgotten this Valentine’s Day.
P.S. HYRC, if you helped my son at the most difficult time of his life I am forever grateful to you.
Charitable sewing, Charity, Compassion, empathy, Gratitude, Homeless youth, Homelessness, Hope, Humanitarian Programs, Kindness, Making a difference, Not Forgotten, Peace, Pioneers of Peace, Shelter, Valentine's Day
POP “Project Love Bundles” is a charitable campaign to let homeless youth in Salt Lake City know they are not forgotten this Valentine’s Day.
Each bundle contains: a warm fleece scarf, hand warmers, a new pair of socks, protein bar, lip balm, and a paper crane with a handwritten quote.
Please help us by donating new 8″ X 60″ fleece scarves
“Project Love Bundles” Scarf Tutorial
Each scarf is 8″ x 60″
The instructions that follow are for a 2 yd piece of fabric because it makes the best use of yardage. If you have a smaller piece, just make sure the scarf is 8″ x 60″
1. After removing selvedge edge, cut a 2 yd piece of 60″ wide fleece into 9, 8″ strips.
2. For fringe, cut 1″w x 3″h 8 times. (8 fringes)
3. Fold fringe up to 3′ cut line and cut a SMALL slit on fold.
4. With each piece of fringe: Fold up to slit and pull it through making a knot.
HELP!!! All of my sewing friends!! If there is a better way to describe these instructions please let me know.
Also if you would be willing to donate completed scarves we would love you forever. We need 200 scarves by Feb 4 so they can be assembled into bundles and donated by Feb 5.
Drop off location will be announced soon. If you live outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, Donations can be sent to:
Barbara Scoville, LCSW
5635 South Waterbury Way Suite C-202
SLC, UT 84121