Monthly Archives: September 2007

Additional insight into Getting Shawls to Victims of Domestic Violence

Here is some insight from a person who has received services from a shelter and then given to a shelter after her recovey. Lisa writes:

After making my own escape, I went to work, as an advocate, for the
agency that helped me change my life. I have to tell you that there
can be a huge difference in attitude from one agency to another.
Where I live now, our shelter will accept nothing that is not brand
new. They only accept handmade items, for their Holiday drive. They
feel that it is demeaning to expect their clients to “accept less”. On
the other hand, the agency that helped me, finds handmade items to be
“warm, & wonderful” & a reminder to their ladies that there are people
out there who care what happens to them and their children.

Obviously, I agree with the latter. However, they are both doing what
they feel is best in order to help woman who desperately need their
help. For myself, I donate all of my handmade items to my old agency
and what I can in terms of “new” stuff to my local shelter.

These days, I teach knitting at my local Michaels. At my supervisor’s
request, I host a monthly charity knitting group. For that group, I am
currently working on a shawl for Sheila’s Shawls. This cause is near
and dear to my heart and I feel privileged to be a part of it.

Help Understanding Shelters and getting Shawls to the people

Another state coordinator suggests:

I run a group that adopts DV shelters throughout the US to try and help provide things they aren’t getting and need and comfort items.  We do send mostly handmade things, and most of that is crochet or knit.  I’m going somewhere with this…and I’m not trying to get members from this group I just need to give you the background……When I have someone that wishes to sponsor the shelter in their area they talk to the director and then I call to confirm that.  I’ve had a couple directors (not many at all) that are not interested in handmade afghans, dishcloths, towels, sheets, etc…..even though they need these things they want them store bought.  I’ve found two main reasons for this, and once you figure out which one is the one stopping you from getting through then you can combat their response and still help victims.

1:  The shelter worker herself has never been a victim of DV and has no clue what it feels like.  I mean she can care all she can but when it comes down to it she does not know personally what it feels like to know that someone is giving you something and they don’t even know you, it is very comforting.

2:  The shelter is located in an area where there is a strong sense of animosity towards others…..a not so friendly town, etc……and in areas like that most people are raised to think other people are just plain nasty.  So if you give handmade items you can’t show (by it still being in the original package) that it was new and not used.  In areas like that they tell the women in the shelter, as a way of building up their self esteem that they are too good for hand-me-downs, and handmade things.

I’ve also found that usually the director of the shelter is more responsive to donations in general, so I always try to contact the director to set an appointment for delivery.  Shelter workers some times allow themselves to distance themselves from what they have to hear and see all the time and it just becomes a job for them and a donation will be just that much more work they will have to do.  So start with the director.  I’ve only encountered one director that just absolutely refused to allow us to help victims in her shelter….she eventually got fired (no doing of ours) and the new director found one of our brochures in the desk and emailed us….we have since then adopted that shelter for one of our quarterly deliveries… it all worked out in the end.  However, I didn’t waste much time with the original director…I just moved on and found another shelter that would let us help.

I’ve also found that in order to gift shawls to victims families after a DV death that contacting the state coalition is helpful as well as the victim advocates locally.
I hope I haven’t went to far off on a tangent, and that this will help someone!

Ways to reach families touched by domestic violence

Leslie wrote, “I’m also a bit frustrated about getting shawls & scarves to people–I can give them to the women in transitional housing as they leave abusive situations, but we’ve actually had 3 local DV deaths recently & I’m stymied with getting things to
the families.”

I suggest you contact the victim/witness coordinator in your local prosecuting attorney’s (some states call this the district attorney).  Today I believe that almost every prosecutor’s office has someone who works with victims of crimes.  I worked with victim/witness coordinators for years here in Idaho and found them all to be very knowledgeable and helpful.

While in Minnesota I delivered shawls to Someplace Safe, a nonprofit organization that works with victims of domestic violence.  They were very, very appreciative of the shawls.  Here in Boise, Idaho I work with the Women’s and Children’s Alliance which provides shelter to victims of domestic violence.  I deal directly with the director, and she also has been very grateful for the shawls.  I have  more shawls to deliver, and hopefully will get them delivered within the next two weeks.  I am teaching classes in the Portland area this weekend and in Colorado Springs next weekend, so am keeping very busy!

I have knit two shawls and one afghan that I will be sending to an individual in Minnesota to give to the children of his cousin who was murdered by her boyfriend.

Thanks to all who are participating in this program,

Extreme Makeover October 2007 in Minnesota

While Hopkins teachers Erik and Vicki Swenson and their family visit
the Magic Kingdom, a team of designers, builders and volunteers is
creating magic of their own for the family, who will return to a new
house more than twice the size of the one they left earlier this week.

The Swensons received the news Aug. 21 that they had been chosen for a
segment of ABC-TV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which selects
two dozen deserving families each season to receive new, custom-built
homes as a result of challenging circumstances. Shortly after the
news, the family left on vacation, and work began on their new home.

Fellow educators in Hopkins nominated the Swensons after the death of
Vicki’s sister. Teri Lee was shot and killed in her Washington County
home by an abusive ex-boyfriend Sept. 22, 2006, in front of her
11-year-old daughter. Lee’s husband died in a car accident several
years earlier.

The Swenson-Lee family
The Swensons, who have three daughters — a 10-year-old and
18-month-old twins — adopted Lee’s four children, who range in age
now from 6 to 12. And the Swensons are expecting a daughter in early
November, bringing their family of nine to a total of 10.

After leaving their three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath, 2,300-square-foot home,
they’ll return Tuesday to a home with 5,600 square feet, seven
bedrooms and five bathrooms. The project will be featured in a
two-hour special edition Nov. 25, the show’s 100th episode.

Vicki not only opened her home to her nieces and nephews, but became
an advocate to protect women and children from domestic abuse, helping
write two bills to provide greater protections. She’s a family and
consumer sciences teacher on leave of absence, although she recently
returned to Hopkins to coach volleyball. Erik, an Education Minnesota
member, is a world studies teacher at the high school.

Nominating the family isn’t the only support colleagues have shown
them since the tragedy. Local union members worked with the
administration, community and students on a benefit last fall that
raised $175,000 for the family. Colleagues also helped establish a
fund for donations. For information, visit, or send
donations to:

Children of Teri Lee Memorial Fund
c/o Lake Elmo Bank
11465 39th St. N.
Lake Elmo, MN 55042

Projects for shelter expand to University of Minnesota- Morris

Two weeks ago I took 14 shawls to Someplace Safe in Alexandria.  Yesterday I attended the Douglas County Fair in Alexandria where Someplace Safe had a booth.  I stopped to visit with the individual working in the booth.  When she asked me if I knew about Someplace Safe I told her I had delivered hand knit shawls there.  She was so excited; she wanted to tell me of one contact she had after the shawls were delivered.

She was working with an individual who, for this story I will call Jane, needed lots of help.  At one point in their contact she asked Jane if she would like a hand knit shawl.  Jane’s eyes lit up as she eagerly said she would.  What asked what color shawl she would prefer, she responded “brown.”  They looked at the shawls and when they came upon a deep green rectangular shawl with some brown flecks in it Jane immediately said that was the one she would like.  The counselor gave the shawl to Jane, and Jane immediately wrapped it around her, despite the fact it was a rather warm day.  During the remainder of their visit, which lasted another 15 minute or so, Jane remained wrapped in the shawl, absolutely loving it.

I know that green shawl is one of the six shawls that Dayle brought to Evansville several weeks ago when we had our fiber day there.  Thank you so much, Dayle, for your contribution.

I know there are dozens and dozens of other stories similar to this.  The recipients of the shawls we knit are thrilled to receive them.  As others have often said, a hand knit shawl is a knitted hug.  Keep up your knitting, for it is much appreciated.

I also ran into one of the board members for Someplace Safe, who is ever so appreciative of our efforts.  I’m thrilled that she is learning to knit, so she, too, can knit shawls to donate to Someplace Safe.

With much appreciation for all your efforts,

Program results in Alexandria, Minnesota

Yesterday was the Fiber Day at the Evansville Arts Center.  We had a small, but wonderful, turnout.
Dayle, from Wisconsin, came and brought with her six wonderful shawls for Someplace Save in Alexandria, MN.  They are all beautifully done, with nice acrylics that are soft and cuddly.  These shawls will definitely add some sunshine to the lives of six victims of domestic violence.
Someday this week I will be taking a total of 14 shawls to Someplace Safe in Alexandria — the six shawls Dayle knit, plus shawls knit by my sisters and me.
I bought nice gift bags and tissue paper from the Dollar Store.  Amazingly, many of the pretty gift bags are color coordinated with the shawls.  If Someplace Safe lets the recipient choose the bag she likely will get a shawl that is a color she likes.  The shawls are all in gift bags and ready to load into my vehicle as soon as I have time to drive the 30 miles to Alexandria this week.  Little did I know two months ago when I bought the fourteen gift bags that I would have fourteen shawls in put in them!
I received a call from Judy, the owner of Gallery of Dreams, the yarn shop in Alexandria.  Several weeks ago I taught a shawl class to seven women.  Each woman agreed to knit a shawl for Someplace Safe.  Two of the shawls are completed.  And, exciting for me is that Judy and several of the other women who took the class and had never knit lace before are really excited about lace knitting.  The class made them realize that lace knitting can be done with any size yarn and needles — even bulky yarn with size 13 needles.
Thanks to all of you for participating in The Sheila’s Shawls and Paul’s Scarves program.

Classes help shelter in Minnesota

Two weeks ago I taught a class at Gallery of Dreams in Alexandria, MN on shawl construction.  The “fee” for the class was a commitment to knit a shawl for Someplace Safe, the local shelter for victims of domestic violence.  There were seven women in the class, which was scheduled to go for 1 1/2 hours, beginning at 5:30 p.m.  At 7:15 the youngest had to leave because she had a child to go home to.  The rest of us continued talking about shawls.  It was close to 9:00 p.m. when I finally got into my car to leave.  We had a really good time.

Next week Saturday the Evansville Arts Center is hosting a “Fiber Day.”  I don’t know who else will be attending, but I will be there with the shawls I have, with information on The Sheila’s Shawls and Paul’s Scarves Program, and with information on Someplace Safe.  The event runs from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The Idaho coordinator, temporarily residing in Minnesota