Others so blessed by Sew Blessed Ministry
By Laurie Doran, Special to Neighbors

BRUNSWICK Sew Blessed Ministry, founded by members of the St. John the Baptist Church parish, is bustling with activity, filling needs in the community and beyond.

It all started two years ago when this group of women noted many needs in the community. They had a strong desire to help others by using their talents of sewing, knitting and crocheting.

From the beginning, the group has knitted shawls for the worldwide "Prayer Shawl Ministry." The shawls are prayed over as they are knitted and then blessed. The shawls, knitted with soft yarn, are given to respite patients, the seriously ill and dying, and their families. The recipient also receives a comforting prayer with the gift.

The shawls are knit in the "Trinity" pattern, alternating with three knit stitches and three purl stitches, and have many meanings. For example, symbolism could mean "Father, Son and Holy Ghost;" or "past, present, future;" or "faith, courage and strength;" or "mother, father and family."

Many recipients express the sentiment that when they wear the shawl it feels like a hug.

"One man at a nursing home, who received a shawl, said it was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for him," said Doriane Asquith, a member of the Sew Blessed Ministry.

The work of these women grew rapidly like "a seed that fell on fertile ground," said Asquith.

The creations are all made by volunteers of the ministry.

Zoe Pinkham, 5, attended the March meeting with her grandmother and was knitting a hat on the nifty knitter's loom for her baby brother who will be born soon.

All of the materials are donated or bought with donations, which include material to make lap blankets and sheets, and notions and yarns for knitting shawls. Jane Leighton, Sew Blessed Ministry organizer, is continually amazed at the amount of donations that keep arriving on a weekly basis.

"We use everything that is donated," said Leighton. "Nothing goes to waste."

Last year the group supplied 360 sets of bed sheets for the Lefoyer Orphanage in Haiti. When Mid Coast Hospital was about to replace old sheets, Sew Blessed Ministry was able to recycle many of those sheets and transformed them to the right size for the children's beds at the orphanage. Other sheets were bought and still others were made. The group thrilled at their success of meeting the need.

Through its work with first lady Karen Baldacci and the March of Dimes, the group found the need to make garments for premature infants. And with that awareness another need arose: burial sets for unexpected infant deaths at both hospitals in the area.

Two wedding dresses were donated to make burial sets for the infants.

Members of the group also make quilts, afghans, preemie clothes, infant hats, isolette quilts, burial sets for infants, slippers, mittens, booties, christening sets and scarves. They also make walker caddies, lap robes, adult bibs, wall hangings and fun pillows for kids, as well as stuffed toys.

They are also involved in making loose IV arm covers out of polar fleece for dialysis patients to keep their arms from getting cold. For chemo therapy patients the group makes hats and comfort bands.

Most recently the group has created a "seat belt pillow" for patients who have had heart, lung or breast surgery. The removable outer cover is designed with Velcro to attach to a seat belt. The pillow relieves the pressure of the seatbelt cross the sensitive incision area.

Sew Blessed Ministry also makes prayer cloths for the prayer cloth ministry. These 3 inch by 5 inch cloths knitted in muted colors are given to the troops who wear them in their helmets or keep them in their pockets as a reminder that they are remembered.

When the group first started they were named Sew Blessed Ministry of St. John the Baptist Parish, but they have grown to include other churches in the area St. Mary's Church in Bath and St. Charles Borromeo Church on McKeen Street in Brunswick, as well as a Baptist church on Maine Street.

Some members of the group are not able to travel, and materials are delivered to them so they can actively participate in the organization.

Sew Blessed Ministry recently became an official certifying organization for the Federal Presidential Volunteer Service Awards Program. Groups or individuals that register their accumulated volunteer hours will be acknowledged for an award from President Bush.

The group meets once a month at the St. John's Parish Center the first Sunday of every month at 2 p.m.



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