A sewing room can redefine a woman’s life, says Ilene Shehan, chief operating officer for Hope House.
Hope House in Independence has received a Sacred Sewing Room from Enchanted Makeovers and Baby Lock sewing machines.
How does a room make such a transformation in a woman?
“Take her from abuse to beauty,” said Terry Grahl, founder of Enchanted Makeovers. “Fill her up with dignity and creativity.”
Hope House, a shelter and support organization for those affected by domestic violence, is the third stop of five for the Sacred Sewing Room tour. The first was in St. Louis, where Baby Lock is headquartered, and the second was Easton, Pennsylvania.
After leaving Hope House, the tour will go to Lexington, Kentucky, and end in Washington, New Jersey, in October. The sites were chosen by application and researched. In addition, each city has a connection to Enchanted Makeovers and Baby Lock. The local connection came through Amy Barickman, of Indygo Junction in Kansas City, who is on the board of directors for Enchanted Makeovers.
According to Grahl, 10 volunteers set up the sewing room, but “tons” of donors support each step. Plus, Anita Roll, a muralist, drives to each location to paint, and Indygo Junction donates patterns and fabric.
Baby Lock donated four “Rachel” sewing machines, which are geared more for beginners. Missouri Sewing Machine Company of Independence has volunteered to maintain the machines.
“I hope that when people hear we're putting in a sewing room, they don't tune out,” said Samantha Palmere, a public relations specialist for Baby Lock who worked on the Hope House project. “This is about empowering confidence. It's more than a needle and thread. People come together and create something.”
“This is a tangible accomplishment made with your own two hands,” she said.
“You had no control, but now you can do this,” Grahl said. Grahl spoke quietly, but the purpose in her voice was compelling. She said Enchanted Makeovers started with just bedrooms and the community coming together.
“I was always passionate about handmade,” Grahl said. “How would I want it? I wouldn't want junk.”
Grahl said one day she shared her thoughts with her mother about the importance of handmade and how the women she visited with in shelters told her about keeping their hands busy. Her mother told her, “Sewing machines saved my life.”
“As a kid, I didn't know she was depressed,” said Grahl about the time her mother spent sewing. “As an adult, I know that's how she coped.”
For Grahl, volunteering to create sewing rooms in shelters is not personally about domestic violence.
“We all have dreams and hopes and deserve dignity,” Grahl said. “I see all women as 'she is me.'”
In addition to the transformation of a space in a shelter, Grahl wants to change the way people think and talk about the people who come to shelters. She said she dreams the day will come when the words “needy child” and “battered woman” will disappear, replaced with “children and women and people.”
“It's really a movement to change the way we serve,” said Grahl. “Change the way we see each other.”
Shehan agreed. “Step out of the box and be vulnerable,” Shehan said. “Rather than 'I'm doing this for you,' it's 'I'm doing this with you.'”
To become involved with Hope House, visit hopehouse.net. For Enchanted Makeovers, see enchantedmakeovers.org.