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A Knitting and Crochet Movement at N Street Village

By Ilana Krakowski – Ilana is a member of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps and serves as the Program Assistant in the Health and Wellness Center. Ilana organizes Wellness Center programing, coordinates volunteers, and manages the Wellness Center receptionist team. Ilana is from New York City and graduated from Barnard College with a BA in Comparative Religion.

DIY — Do It Yourself. It seems that as the world grows larger and more interconnected, people are seeking to empower themselves and their communities with a DIY attitude. DIY means the ability to create something original we’ve grown to assume can only be mass-produced in a factory and purchased at a store. DIY puts personal choices and money back into the hands of those who make their own products, and it also offers them inspiration, a sense of fulfillment, and increased self-esteem.  I’ve seen these results in the women who participate in knitting and crochet classes here at N Street Village.

Our first knitting class was introduced in 2006 by volunteer Jane Saari, who wanted to share her love of the craft.  Jane invited her friend Wendy Mayer to teach crochet skills during Jane’s knitting class.  Not long after tapping into her own talent, Barbara, one of N Street Village’s client volunteers, began to teach her own crochet class in the Wellness Center. This past January, Wendy and  Barbara started offering an advanced crochet class because so many women had mastered basic crochet skills and wanted to learn to read more challenging patterns.

Knitting and crocheting have become a part of daily life at N Street Village. Almost everywhere I go in the building I see women working on yarn projects – scarves, hats, blankets, and caftans.  I see ladies sporting knitted or crocheted garments that they have made or a friend has made for them. I see projects completed and new ones started right away. I see the distribution of new yarn skeins greeted with anticipation and excitement. Most important of all, I notice the growth of community and individuality among our clients.  While working on their projects, women chat, joke, develop friendships, and share information on different services available to them in the city.   Many women find their unique styles and voices in their yarn work.  Some shared their gifts outside our community by taking part in the Hyperbolic Coral Reef Project, while others started selling pieces at Luther Place Memorial Church’s art fairs and on Etsy. One client was able to quit smoking after she began crocheting, while others have completed something they’ve started for the first time, showing them that they have the ability to set a goal and achieve it. The Do-It-Yourself ethic inherent in our knit and crochet program really has and continues to change lives.

We are grateful for all of our donors and volunteers who continue to bring knitting and crocheting to N Street Village. Our community is always in need of yarn donations — now more than ever as many women are improving their skills and creating more elaborate pieces. Your donation of yarn will also offer newcomers the very experience that so many women have already benefited from. To make a donation of yarn, please contact Anne Steeves at asteeves@nstreetvillage.org.

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Celebrating the Power of Love

It is – without question – Valentine’s Day at The Village.  Our walls are decked out in red and pink hearts, and our clients are distributing the handmade cards they carefully crafted in art classes to friends and staff members. Valentine’s Day only happens once a year, but at N Street Village, we celebrate the power of love to change women’s lives every day. One place you can see this love in action is in our Wellness Center.

The Wellness Center offers a wide variety of classes that encourage women to love themselves by taking care of their minds, bodies, and spirits. Watch as two clients, Tonya and Patricia, share how this self-care approach is improving their lives and providing them with the opportunity to love who they are inside and out.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8RVDytOkvo&w=853&h=480]

 

Video created for N Street Village by Becky Harlan | @beckyharlan | www.beckyharlan.com

Taking Charge of Self-Care

By Ilana Krakowski – Ilana is a member of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps and serves as the Program Assistant in the Health and Wellness Center. Ilana organizes Wellness Center programing, coordinates volunteers, and manages the Wellness Center receptionist team. You may find Ilana teaching a dance class from time to time too. Ilana is from New York City and graduated from Barnard College with a BA in Comparative Religion.

When you think you can’t do something, you often realize that you can.” These are the words of N Street Village resident, Debra Green.  As a senior peer and Wellness Center receptionist, Debra fills various leadership roles.  This month, Debra took on another responsibility– educating those who walk through the Wellness Center about self-care.

Every month the Wellness Center features information about a health topic on its main bulletin board. The Wellness Center’s receptionist team takes turns researching and presenting material for the board. Past topics focused on breast cancer awareness, diet and nutrition, sleep apnea, diabetes, and dementia.  For October, Debra created a board focusing on of self-care.

Debra presented tips on both physical and mental healthcare, offering advice on balanced diet, physical activity, adequate sleep, smoking cessation, hydration, creative expression, and helping others. Debra’s board is not only informative — its vibrant colors, photos, and user-friendly layout draw in anyone who passes by.

Debra proudly stands next to her completed bulletin board.

The board is not only a professional success — it also serves as a testament to Debra’s personal successes. Since arriving at N Street Village, Debra’s dedication to self-care has grown immensely. She started maintaining her physical health through better nutrition and weight loss and staying on top of her doctor appointments. She also took on professional and recreational goals in addition to volunteering her time to help other women at N Street Village. Debra felt it was important to create a board on self-care in order to inspire others to take care of themselves holistically like she does.

Organizing the bulletin board was something new to Debra.  When first asked to make the board, she thought she couldn’t. With motivation and calm persistence, Debra worked with me to research self-care topics and condense them into several tips. Our joint research efforts helped Debra understand the preparation process in a lesson plan as well as how to make information accessible.  Debra had all the ideas; she just had to overcome the initial hesitation in starting a new project.

It was a pleasure to watch Debra create her first educational board and to see her pride as she passes the board every day. Debra is now excited to do another…and another. She now has even more proof that she can achieve what she sets her mind to.

I too, was touched by Debra’s growth. Debra taught me that having courage can develop self-confidence and in turn, having self-confidence can make one courageous.

I encourage you to visit the Wellness Center to see Debra’s self-care board!

Related Links:
Client Stories – Debra’s story on N Street Village’s website