Volunteer Spotlight: Project Knitwell

This month, get to know N Street Village volunteer Ann Herzog and Project Knitwell! Ann started volunteering at N Street Village through Project Knitwell, which is a local nonprofit that promotes the benefits of therapeutic knitting. She now teaches classes at N Street Village where she uses knitting as a mechanism for stress relief.

What does a typical class look like?

Every Tuesday for an hour and half, we work with about 20 women, teaching them to knit or improve their knitting skills. The class is divided into training for beginners, who have never knitted before, and assistance on projects making hats, scarfs, socks, leg warmers and teaching other knitting skills.

The trainers are volunteers from Project Knitwell. We currently have five volunteers in addition to myself. Robin Herman, Barbara Cleveland both of whom moved over from the Street Sense site with me. Because the demand at N Street Village was so great, Peggy Blechman, Caroline Rogus, Carol Caparosa and Donna Breslin have also joined the group. The interest and enthusiasm we found at N Street Village far exceeded our early expectation and we had to change our structure and increase the number of volunteers in order to provide training for all the clients who were interested.

What’s been the biggest positive impact you’ve seen through the class?

The biggest impact is seeing the unique creative expression each knitter exhibits. Their sense of accomplishment and pride in their knitted creations. The women also talk about how knitting is calming. When we are together at N Street Village there is a real peaceful flow in the group providing a support environment for everyone.

Can you describe how creative outlets like knitting and crocheting are connected to healing?

Research has shown that knitting and hand crafting helps to reduce stress. Betsan Corkhill, a pioneer in the field of therapeutic knitting has found that “Working with your hands makes you feel good…. we now know that the creative making process can be specifically harnessed to promote healing biologically, neurologically, behaviorally, and socially…. which has the power to transform people’s lives.”

What has been most surprising to you since you started volunteering?

The women at N Street Village are so gracious, kind — and supportive of each other and of us! It is deeply moving to share their gratitude and pride when they’ve finished something.

Why does volunteering make a difference?

I have found that volunteering provides an opportunity to give back and stretch my horizons. There is a lot of joy in knowing you have touched someone else and provided something new to their lives.

Why does having an organization like N Street Village in D.C. matter?

N Street Village makes a tremendous difference in D.C. and in the lives of the women they help. Living with housing insecurity and being able to come to N Street Village to heal and get your life back on track is an amazing gift. The respect and dignity that the N Street Village staff shows in interacting with each of their clients and the volunteers is truly admirable and rare.