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Can You Donate?

The group is looking for donations of yarn for future projects. If you have soft yarn to donate, please contact Kim Jensen at 847.618.6914.

A Close-Knit Group

Meet a volunteer who is helping cancer patients, one stitch at a time

After a long career in nursing, Gwen Blakley Kinsler wanted to give back to the community in retirement.

Gwen had always enjoyed crocheting hats and scarves for friends and family members and she felt she could put her passion to work in helping cancer patients and those families who are affected by the disease.

"I have a passion for crocheting because it has many healthy benefits—you lower your blood pressure, exercise your fingers and it is relaxing," Gwen says.

Gwen is founder of the Crochet Guild of America and author of several technical crochet books. In 1971, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, she never dreamed that the simple thread crochet learned from co-workers in a small mountain village would lead her on an awesome and passionate crochet journey.

Gwen brought her work to Northwest Community Healthcare where she decided to create a crochet group. It is open to anyone who has had cancer or been affected by cancer and meets every two weeks at the hospital.

The group has 10 women who make scarves, hats and other small projects. Gwen has given each of the women lessons on crocheting so they feel comfortable with their projects. The group has even produced small crochet hats for newborns at NCH.

"I encourage them to pick a project and get going on it," she says. "Crocheting is a therapeutic way of thinking about something other than cancer. We have developed a great bond."

During their meetings on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month, the women have fun and socialize among each other. The group provides an outlet for women who have seen cancer upfront and personally.

"We are there for socialization," Gwen says. "We are always looking for new members who have been impacted by cancer. They are able to make something, and they feel like they are contributing."

The most rewarding time is to watch members complete a crochet project. Many in the group have completed scarves and hats.

"The smiles and excitement about creating a finished project is fun to see," Gwen says. "We are making a difference for those affected by cancer."

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Last Updated 04/10/2009