by Mayté Penman
“Together, all things are possible.”
The power of praying, healing, creating, and building community is in our soul, mind and hands. And it is in our hands where all the energy gets funneled to create and make tangible all that is already in our hearts. Our hands are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. They bring life to our intentions, our prayers, our desire to make something out of nothing, and to share with others and to create a better world. It is with our hands and hearts that we receive and pay forward.
A group of southwest Detroit activists are using their hands to make a difference in the lives of families who need extra warmth and compassion this winter. A project that emerged as part of a weekly sewing workshop, Stitches of Love is collecting 8 x 8-inch knitted squares and producing homemade, quilted blankets for underserved families. Each blanket is comprised of 54 squares, reflecting 54 donations from caring, creative individuals, every one unique in design and pattern.
Stitches of Love is a project where everyone can do something small and create something beautiful for others to use. It doesn’t require longs hours or a long commitment. It only requires the desire to help others. If you can crochet or knit, you can crochet or knit 8×8-inch squares that will be utilized to create blankets full of energy for people in need. And since this is a collective effort where different people donate different types of squares, no two blankets will be identical. Everyone will bring their own stories, and whether it is a stitch that you learned from your grandmother, or memories of elders in your community, this is an opportunity to share and create new relationships.
Each blanket represents a collective effort in which different people contribute different kinds of squares to form a warm and wonderful whole. Each embodies the collective good will, positive energy, prayers, stories, traditions, and compassion of many, giving each blanket a comfort and healing power that the recipient will feel.
The Stitches of Love project is part of a long tradition of people taking what they have and creating something new. In Detroit we have found ways to combine beauty, usefulness and meaning. In the early 1980s, as Detroiters for Dignity emerged to find more humane ways of dealing with basic needs for food and shelter, a small group of women created the Rainbow Stitchers. Together they made quilts from scraps, selling these in craft fairs around the region, sharing the money and using it to support their organization.
During the height of the Sanctuary Movement protesting US involvement in Central America, the Rainbow Stitchers donated their efforts to help support the El Salvadoran family living in St. Rita’s Church. Most recently, drawing on the inspiration of the AIDS quilt, mothers who have lost their children to gun violence are creating quilts in their memory.
Stitches of Love Project draws on this powerful tradition of creating something for others to use, to feel the prayers that others have placed in each square, to feel the noble intentions, to feel the energy of those who cared enough to create something for someone they have never met.
Please join us in our first year of producing blankets for the upcoming holiday season. Each one is made of 54 8×8-inch squares, and will be donated to vulnerable families in Southwest Detroit. We are also collecting new or gently used blankets. Bring your squares to 1920 25th Street, Detroit, MI 48216, where we will welcome them. Other families will create their own stories when they cuddle tougher and enjoy your gift.
To learn more about Stitches of Love and current drop-off locations, please contact Mayté Penman at 313.297.1341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A native of Mapimi, Durango, Mexico, Ma Teresa “Mayté” Penman has been engagin families in Detroit for over two decades, encouraging them to take pride in their culture, language and heritage. She worked 16 years for Vistas Nuevas Head Start and was a co-founder of the Día de los Niños-Día de los Libros, the largest bi-lingual literacy event in Michigan. She currently works as the director of resident engagement for Southwest Solutions.