Dream weavers: Volunteers craft items for needy

Day by day

Dream weavers: Volunteers craft items for needy

October 18, 2016
This Week News

Now that cold weather is upon us, I get the urge to knit and crochet.

My friend Sandy Maxim of Gahanna (Ohio) told me about the ministry she knits for at St. Matthew Apostle Church. In 2015, the Knitting/Crocheting Ministry distributed 13,237 handmade items to 40 different organizations. That’s a lot of stitches.

Glenda Neely, also of Gahanna, told me it all began in 1990. Her mother had been diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy and given a five-year prognosis.

“My sister, Paula, and I got her knitting lessons,” Neely said. “She began making scarves and hats and giving them to the Worthington United Methodist Church. Soon people were giving her yarn to make more, until she died in 1995.”

That same year, Neely saw a homeless person at Morse Road and Interstate 71 wearing one of her mother’s knitted hats. She knew her mother’s work should continue.

After Neely married, she joined St. Matthew. For seven years, she made scarves and gave them to her church for the St. Vincent de Paul Society. She also gave crochet lessons from 1997-98, and the idea grew by word of mouth.

Neely and eight other women now teach eighth-grade boys and girls at St. Matthew to knit and crochet. About 50 students give up part of their lunch hour to learn.

Many people have volunteered over the years by donating yarn and money to buy yarn, and by knitting/crocheting items in their homes. Presently, more than 150 people knit and crochet, and not just in Ohio.

In 2015, friends of Neely’s put an article about the ministry in Grit Magazine. Soon after publication, she received donations of yarn, hats and scarves from all over the U.S.

“We’ve received donations from at least 25 states,” Neely said. “One woman in Clifton, Colorado, had an urge to buy a round loom.”

After that reader saw the ministry’s website, she got busy. Recently she sent 79 hats. That was not her first donation.

“Since 1995, we have been blessed to make 78,295 items. We make men’s, women’s, children’s, teens’ and toddlers’ hats and scarves; baby blankets; lap robes; and little hats for preemies,” Neely said.

St. Pius X Church in Reynoldsburg (Ohio) also is involved. Neely takes yarn to the Pickerington (Ohio) Senior Center and to her hometown of Canton for people to make items.

A prayer, “May God bless you and keep you warm and safe,” is attached to each item.

In early November, thousands of items will be sorted at Mifflin (Ohio) Presbyterian Church for distribution and delivery.

“Organizations let us know their needs,” Neely said.

“I have a wonderful group of ladies who know what needs to be done, and they just do it (on distribution day),” she said. “We have a lot of fun.”

Anyone can drop off donations of yarn or finished items at the St. Matthew church office, 807 Havens Corners Road, Gahanna. Include a name, address and phone number so organizers can send a personal note. Checks can be made out to Mrs. Glenda Neely, with “The Knitting/Crocheting Ministry” on the memo line. All money is used to buy yarn.

At First Community Church in Grandview Heights (Ohio) and Hilliard (Ohio), volunteers crochet for the needy in another way. Their Mat Ministry began in 2013.

Plastic shopping bags are cut into strips and looped to make “plarn” — plastic strips wound like yarn — which is crocheted into 6-by-3-foot sleeping mats, mainly for the homeless.

“Since 2013, we have distributed over 200 mats to Heart to Heart at First Community, NNEMAP food pantry, Blue Star Mothers, an orphanage in the Dominican Republic and to a mission in Guatemala,” Marble Cliff resident Joan Talmage said. “The mats are used by homeless people to lie or sit on, or as blankets. People in homes may not have bedding or beds and … people use them to cover drafty doors and windows.”

This ministry needs help making plarn more than it needs additional bags. For information, call 614-486-1269.

First Community also has a knitting ministry. Many churches and organizations have similar ministries. Check them out and get knitting or crocheting.

The need is great when the cold winds blow.


Memory Lane provides lovely place to stroll


Day by day

Memory Lane provides lovely place to stroll


September 19, 2016


The passing of time makes me more emotional than anything else.

Markers such as birthdays, graduations and weddings cause me to look back at the memories. I have photographs as proof — oodles of them — that these events happened.

Some time ago, I gathered all our photo albums and loose photos stashed here and there. I had high hopes of organizing them into new albums. What surprised me was how many photos were duplicates.

Remember ordering double prints for pennies more? One for me, one for Grandma? And the negatives — envelopes full, as if we would order more prints.

These hundreds of photos span from our baby years — duplicates our parents had, all black and white — to when we had our own children. Then when we became grandparents, our daughter sent us duplicates.

We had photos of the many houses we lived in, from Ohio to Arizona to Washington and back again. Twice.

I also found pictures of flowers — in one instance, five photos of the same flower. Landscapes. Gardens. Buildings. Vacations. People I could no longer identify. The trash can became full with many of these latter images.

What started as a simple organizational project became a long walk down memory lane.

I saw many different hairstyles on me and others as well as clothing that has come back into fashion but likely would not fit anymore, even if I had saved it. My young figure was much different than that of a woman my age.

Some of the most precious photos are when we were holding our newborns, and later our newborn grandchildren.

Click, click — I can almost hear the cameras whirring, flashes quasi-blinding me. Our first grandson was tolerant of all the pictures taken by grandparents, aunts and uncles but became shy around cameras later on. I can’t blame him.

What I really hold dear is remembering the feel of a child in my arms — the softness of the skin and the sweet fragrance of new life.

Later, memories more important than a photo were things such as my child calling out, “Mommy!” when she saw me or needed me. I recall easily her first day of school and my crying all the way home because she waved and walked into the room perfectly composed.

It was like a flash-forward as I realized that one day she would be on her own, not needing a mom all the time.

Time did zoom onward without my bidding. I can still see many of the events in my mind, as mental snapshots and three-minute movies spliced together into a full-length film without commercials.

As parents, we were finding our way, often like a toddler taking her first steps.

I’ve heard it said that children are born without instruction manuals. Each child is unique. From the first moment we hold our children, the main thing we need to remember is to love and care for them.

When they’re scared, hurt or sick, we hold them gently. We teach them morality, discipline lovingly and love unconditionally. I firmly believe we should do our best to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

When we make parental mistakes — and we will — we hope our children will someday be forgiving with their memories. We hope we spent enough time simply being there with them. That we were predictable, maybe even boring, in their eyes.

Children need to know we will be there when they fall, when they succeed, when they have tough questions. We need to be there cheering them along.

Author Connie Schultz has a good suggestion: “When you’re in the thick of raising your kids … you tend to keep a running list of everything you think you’re doing wrong. I recommend taking a lot of family pictures as evidence to the contrary.”

No one had to tell us to take pictures, and I’m glad we did. I finally did get the photos in some order. The stroll down memory lane reminded me of what we came through together.

If ever the unthinkable happened and these photos were destroyed, I know I don’t really need pictures to remember the years gone by. All I need to think or say is, “Let’s take a walk,” and the memories appear — or I become a storyteller.

As we grow old, healthful habits become crucial

Day by Day

Tuesday August 23, 2016
This Week News

As we age, everyone seems so much younger. Professionals in many fields might not seem old enough to be out of college, and some drivers look younger than 16.

When we see children flying by on bikes, skateboards or on foot, we remember doing the same — oh so many years ago. We can mourn the loss of our youth or we can learn from it to be the healthiest we can be in the here and now.

We learned good habits as children: Eat our fruits and vegetables (yes, I know we all tried the trick of hiding them in our napkins, and our children thought we didn’t see them do the same), and avoid too much white bread because it offers little nutrition.

Get out there and run, swim, bike, play nicely with your friends and get your sleep.

We didn’t have sunblock lotions as we stayed active outdoors. We had only zinc oxide, which our mothers slathered on our noses and shoulders. Now, years later, some of those freckles have turned to age spots, and other suspicious-looking marks need checked.

There is sunblock now and we should use it.

Time passes, and our physical, emotional and mental needs change along with it. I think most people know what to do to be healthy, but reminders can help keep or get us on track.

Eating right means we don’t subsist on snack food. We still need vegetables, fruits, whole grains, different meat in reasonable amounts, and vitamin supplements. I have an affinity for sweets, but too much is just plain unhealthful.

Our playground has changed to venues such as recreation centers, YMCA’s, senior centers and the like. Exercise has changed, too. We may not go outside to run and skateboard, but now we can walk on a treadmill or around our neighborhood, use a stationary bike, swim and garden.

I garden sitting down — I refuse to give up getting my hands in dirt. Exercise — even as little as a few minutes an hour so we aren’t sedentary — makes us feel better, and when we move as much as our bodies allow, we have more energy and get valuable sleep.

Weight-bearing exercise such as tai chi, yoga, walking, dancing, golfing and strength training are effective and necessary ways to build our bones.

If your mobility is limited, or balance compromises these exercises, look for ways to exercise while seated. Dust off those hand weights.

If you need mobility tools such as a cane or walker, I urge you to use them to help keep you upright and move safely. It’s not giving up; it’s being smart. I have some pretty canes, practical ones and a handcrafted wooden one.

Good health isn’t only physical. Staying connected is vital for our mind and body.

I know seniors who stay active and play cards with friends; volunteer; write poetry, stories and books; teach Sunday school; take part in book or civic clubs; tutor; participate in discussion groups at their senior center; deliver Meals on Wheels; bird watch; do arts and crafts, puzzles and word games; camp; travel; or learn something new. We need to flex our mental muscles as well as the physical ones.

For the third year, the Upper Arlington Commission on Aging is holding a senior symposium. This year’s topic is “Good Habits for a Healthy Mind and Body.”

Dr. John Larry, a cardiologist with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and Dr. Douglas Scharre, an OSU neurologist, will discuss how to be proactive in your health to prevent diseases of the heart and mind. Rather than focusing on disease processes and health problems, this seminar will teach positive habits to keep heart and brain health in tip-top shape.

The program will run from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 21 at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, 2300 Lytham Road. Exhibits will open at 8:30 a.m.

There is no cost to attend but reservations are required and seating is limited. To register, call 614-583-5326.

Amy Schossler, director of the UA Commission on Aging, said seniors are proactive and are interested in getting advice about steps, methods and activities to prevent illness and stay active and engaged in the community.

As we revamp our healthful habits and focus on what we can do, we can watch the younger set rush around and thank God we have the time and ability to remember when.

Time passes, and our physical, emotional and mental needs change along with it. I think most people know what to do to be healthy, but reminders can help keep or get us on track.


Celebration of freedom, people always valuable

Celebration of freedom, people always valuable


July 26, 2016


This month, we celebrated the independence of our country, the day we became a sovereign nation. After 240 years, you’d think we’d be tired of celebrating. Yet every year, fireworks, picnics, family gatherings and all kinds of events throughout our country mark the date.

When I was a city reporter, some 15 years ago, I gravitated to the positive stories of people who overcame obstacles or were helping others do the same. I loved stories about people who spent hours planning Fourth of July celebrations and those who lined streets to see the fruits of their labors.

I met inventors, entrepreneurs, teachers, physicians, firefighters, police officers, students, artists, musicians, mentors, parents, those remembering loved ones, council members, city workers and business people whose stories filled page after page of the local paper.

I loved every minute and always learned something new. I even had a lesson in shuffleboard and an offer to learn chess from a man who volunteered in the schools teaching children this game of strategy.

Of course, news is always a mix, and I had to do a little bit of everything.

Even after 9/11, when this country was turned upside down, positive stories were plentiful.

Children were placing flags up and down their streets, and churches were full of those praying for the families who lost people in the terror attacks.

We had new respect and understanding of the risks the safety forces endure, especially since we weren’t sure what would happen next, or if anything would happen. To that end, many were praying for our safety and for our country in a time of crisis.

Those who lived through the Depression and World War II and were still alive to tell about it likened the reactions in our country to those times when people pulled together to survive and support one another.

We didn’t have to plant victory gardens or use ration books to meet our needs after 9/11, but we were in as much shock as people were after the attack on Pearl Harbor. We didn’t know how far things would go or what our margin of safety was.

In spite of those things, we are a resilient people.

Sometimes it’s difficult to get into a celebratory mood when we see what’s going on in our country.

Today, we have news at our fingertips on TV, computers and smartphones, newspapers and, yes, even the radio — which was what our nation had during WWII for immediate news.

Sometimes I want to shut it all off. It’s almost too much saturation, and I struggle to find the good news that’s sent to the shadows.

So much news is sensationalized that I find myself sorting through those stories looking for the people who are making a positive difference — the youth who are learning and want to make a difference in this country. I know they’re out there, but we don’t hear enough about them.

I like to read and hear about everyday people doing everyday jobs to keep our lives humming.

What would we do without the people who physically built America and those who maintain and protect it today?

Of course, it’s not the celebrations that make us free, and even if we don’t watch parades or eat from picnic baskets, what’s important is that what makes our country great lies within each of us.

We have the freedom to vote and we can do it with a clear conscience. Freedom means we uphold the laws of our land and respect the people who protect us from harm.

Freedom does not mean we can do whatever we please, no matter the consequences.

I hope we never stop celebrating. I hope these traditions won’t die and that each new generation will realize the sacrifices their ancestors made, and still are making, to keep us free. I hope our youth will join in the effort to keep America free.

Irveline Evans of Upper Arlington is one person I met as a reporter. She and her mother survived a Japanese war camp. She said, “I am always moved to tears when I hear the American national anthem, and I am only recently a Yank!”

Our nation is not perfect, but I hope each of us will continue to strive to keep it united.


‘Unplugged’ vacation recalls carefree youth

Day by Day

‘Unplugged’ vacation recalls carefree youth

This Week News
June 28, 2016

I’m glad I was born in the early 1950s.

I didn’t appreciate it then, but times were much simpler than today. Choices were fewer, true, but I never felt deprived.

The doors to our home were never locked; we played outside till after dark — barefoot in the summer. Our parents never worried and since everyone knew us, we couldn’t get into mischief without being caught in the act. We were too busy having fun to think about messing around.

Our social “media” consisted of extended family and friends from school, Scouts and church.

Speaking of church, its doors were never locked, either.

When we camped in the Smokies this past May, we watched children play with abandon — running up and down the hillsides laughing and chattering and helping the younger ones up and down the steep hills.

All the while, they were talking to each other face to face, hugging playfully with arms flung around the shoulders of siblings and friends. As I listened to the chatter, I realized I couldn’t understand a single word spoken in rapid fire. I asked several other adults if they could understand and they all smiled and said, “No, not a word. But they seem to understand each other!”

I was walking our dog and a young girl said to me, “I’m looking for my brother. He’s 4 and riding a (indiscernible) bike.”

“He went that way,” I said, pointing.

I knew this because the whole crew of children had gone by our campsite many times.

I saw the girl again and asked if she found her brother.

“Yes. He was already back at the campsite.”

Another young girl rode by on her small, pink bike numerous times, always singing at the top of her lungs with a smile.

No worries. Fresh air. Freedom. And no distractions. In today’s vernacular, unplugged. No Wi-Fi (oh horrors!), so no Internet or cellphones that worked. The campground had a pay phone if you want to call someone and that worked just fine for me.

It was about 10 years ago when the first smartphone came on the market. Before that, cellphones made calls and texting was cumbersome, using a keypad like a regular telephone, so I didn’t text. I still only do it as a means to get a quick message to someone.

The first pay telephone was installed in 1889 in Hartford, Connecticut. By 1891, there were more than 2 million pay phones in America, according to Smithsonian.com. By some estimates, there are now fewer than 300,000 pay phones in America (one in the Smokies!)

But being unplugged is refreshing. When someone walks by the campsite, they are talking to the person next to them, not into a phone. People actually wave and smile, just like when I was growing up, and people walked for the simple joy of it or to actually get somewhere without a car.

I got a sense of how adults might have felt raising children in simpler times in small-town Westerville, which was a village when I was born. Or in the thousands of small towns across America. A campground can mimic a small town, albeit for a short time. Campers come and go continually, unlike the days decades ago when families stayed put for generations.

We saw several retro campers — Scotties and Shastas, mostly. One was aqua and white pulled by a 1956 Chevrolet Cabriolet (I only know this because my husband told me) painted to match. The inside was decorated like a diner with a mini jukebox.

For days, people walked by it taking photos and talking to the owners. The man said his father used to take him camping in the Smokies in a camper like that, and he wanted to recapture those good times.

Retro trailers, and days of old, for that matter, don’t have all the bells and whistles the new trailers and our current society have. But something about this era charms us.

I think it’s possible to keep a lot of what we loved about the simpler times by remembering that talking with someone is more interesting than staring at a phone screen and that looking at the trees and enjoying the breeze can bring more peace than hundreds of texts.

And taking a walk and waving to our neighbors can hold the same allure as it did when we baby boomers were young.

Anniversaries provide reason to reflect on past

Anniversaries provide reason to reflect on past

Day by Day
by Liz Thompson
This Week News
June 2, 2016

When I walk through the woods and forest glades I wander, and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees. When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur, and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze…

This verse in the hymn, How Great Thou Art always makes me emotional.

We camped in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park last month and we experienced all these words imply first hand.

This might not have been possible if a few determined people hadn’t gone many extra miles to make national parks part of our lives. What began in the 1850’s, became official 100 years ago this year. It wasn’t all pretty and it wasn’t all easy.

Some of the saddest pages in our nation’s history include when Native Americans, who had lived on these lands for generations, were driven off the lands. When our government finally had the opportunity to make National Parks in Alaska, they had a chance to “do it right.” The natives continued to be part of the culture, not excluded from it.

But we can focus on the end result of what these determined people did for our nation. First and foremost, to preserve the natural wonders– flora and fauna in all its purest form. And later, the wonders like Mount Rushmore and other monuments to people and historical events.

All this happened when communication was very basic – written letters and telephone. Transportation was by train and car – and many people did not own cars. If you wanted to travel from the East Coast out to California, it wasn’t easy going. I’m not even sure the condition of the roads.

Most of us can’t think back 100 years or even imagine what life might have been like. But preserving our history is important so we can learn from it and hopefully not make some of the same mistakes.

Preserving history also is celebratory.

Recently, my Mother came upon her mother’s wedding gown she had stored in her home. Another 100 year marker. The satin of the gown is in mint condition with only the delicate bodice and sleeves having become more fragile.

In my quest to find a home for this gown with a historical society, I wanted to get a copy of the February 27, 1916 Columbus Dispatch. The front page of the Society Section had a story about my grandparent’s wedding with a photo of the bride, her six bridesmaids and two flower girls.

My grandparents were married in a downtown Columbus church. 1,500 people attended and the reception at my great-grandparent’s home at 368 E. Broad greeted more than 300. The church still stands but not the large home.

I was amazed the paper copy my mother had of the story was still intact and, for the most part, we could see the photo and read the article. Personally, I’m glad I didn’t have 1,500 people at my wedding. My Mother and I were trying to imagine addressing invitations or writing thank you notes to all those people.

I learned the Dispatch only keeps papers in storage back to 1980. They suggested contacting the library, which I did.

Julie Callahan, of Reynoldsburg, Librarian in the Local History and Genealogy Department of the Columbus Metropolitan Library gave me the good news.

“We have every copy of the Columbus Dispatch since it began.”

I told her of the paper copy my mother had and that I wondered how it survived 100 years. Julie explained that paper in the 1800’s was fiber and lasted much longer. So the newspaper in 1916 was still a much higher quality paper than is used today.

Now I’ll have my copy to go with the dress once I find it a permanent home. No gown 100 years old should be hidden in storage.

Time does march on, but when I see my grandmother’s wedding gown I can’t help but wonder what was going through her mind as she placed the gown over her head and walked down the aisle. What gems did I miss in the 30-plus years I knew her?

She was starting married life the same year that the National Parks began.

I know she could play “How Great Thou Art” on the piano beautifully.

So while I walk through the woods, I can see the connection to the beauty in more ways than one.

For more information, go to: pbs.org/nationalparks

Sounds of spring often go unheard

Day by day

Sounds of spring often go unheard

May 3, 2016

This Week Newspapers

Spring is in full swing and along with it comes birdsong, children’s laughter, wind chimes gently clanging in the breeze, rain splattering on the roof and windows, thunderstorms and — on the warm days — quiet conversations on decks, porches, patios and in campgrounds and parks.

All this delicious activity we wait for all winter long. But for about 20 percent of Americans — 48 million people — with some degree of hearing loss, these springtime gifts are diminished.

These millions can see the birds, but can’t hear the songs.

They see the children laughing.

These millions can see the wind chimes moving in the wind, but the melodious sounds elude them.

The lightning of a storm is present for these many, but the thunder might only be felt, not heard.

They see the rain hitting the windowpanes, but no pitter-patter sound meets their ears.

But most disheartening of all is the inability to carry on a conversation. Words are muddled or lost, and the meaning of a conversation is beyond their comprehension.

They sit feeling the warmth of the sun and watch the words being spoken; the jokes they won’t get or be able to repeat.

These same people use what they can to make sense of the noisy world we live in through touch, vision, taste and smell.

Many simply withdraw. It’s tiring trying to understand.

Even the best lip reader will grasp only a small percentage of a conversation.

I’m one of the millions with hearing loss.

At 39, I got my long-overdue first hearing aid and heard bacon sizzling for the first time in years. I was terrified during a spring storm. But my loving husband took me outside and explained the noises that had been lost for so many years, and my fear subsided.

The world of sound was partially back, but not for long. By 50, I was deaf, but with the miracle of a cochlear implant, hearing was restored with a clarity I might never have had in my entire life with hearing loss.

I had said, “Huh?” so often in my life that I had to unlearn using it.

But I’m still deaf when the batteries die.

For those who understood words prior to hearing loss and can no longer understand the world around them, it’s lonely. The noise of this world is creating more people who have hearing loss every day.

Causes include excessive noise, medications, heredity, viruses, disease, ear malformations, tumors, head trauma and aging.

Noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented. The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels.

Some common sounds and their noise levels are: 20 dB, rustling leaves; 60 dB, normal conversations or dishwashers; 60-70 dB, normal piano practice; 80 dB, alarm clocks; 90 dB, hair dryers, blenders and lawnmowers; 100 dB, MP3 players at full volume; 110 dB, concerts (any music genre), car racing and sporting events; 130 dB, ambulances and fire-engine sirens; 140 dB, gunshots, fireworks and custom car stereos at full volume.

It is worth the time to find ear protection. Even musicians who mostly make beautiful sounds can use special ear protection to keep performing and enjoying music for years to come.

The noise is too loud when: you have to raise your voice to be understood by someone standing nearby; the noise hurts your ears; you develop a buzzing or ringing sound in your ears; or you don’t hear as well as you normally do until several hours after you get away from the noise.

Excessive exposure to loud noise also can cause stress, illness, sleep disruption and high blood pressure.

At age 65, one in three people has some hearing loss.

About two to three of every 1,000 children are hard of hearing or deaf. It is estimated that 30 schoolchildren per 1,000 have hearing loss.

Childhood noise risks include noisy toys, sporting events, band class, motorbikes, farm equipment, movie theaters, shop class, arcades, concerts, firearms, fireworks, power tools and MP3 players.

If you suspect you or your child has hearing loss, see an ear, nose and throat doctor or your primary-care physician to rule out any medical condition.

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month. It’s a good time to remember the value of our hearing and ability to communicate.

Life’s too short to miss the music of laughter. It’s nice to understand why others are laughing, too.

For more information, visit hearingloss.org.

At age 65, one in three people has some hearing loss. About two to three of every 1,000 children are hard of hearing or deaf.