BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Residents at Genesis Village on Reynolds Road dedicated much of their time in May to a project benefiting premature babies at ProMedica Russell J. Ebeid Children’s Hospital.
Women in the knitting and crochet club created octopuses for the tiny patients in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to hold and touch.
“They put them in the incubators with the babies, and they soothe them and keep them from tugging on their hoses and cords,” said Genesis Village life enrichment coordinator Liz Hammett.
The group was inspired by articles they had seen about the small octopuses and dedicated their weekly meetings in May to the project.
For crochet, Hammett said, the project is simpler than it looks. It starts with eight stitches that, with time, form the head/body of the octopus. Then, it gets stuffed before the legs are formed. Each soothing sea critter is one piece, Hammett said.
There was a learning curve, though, for each of the residents.
“We encouraged each other to help make each one as we went along,” said resident Susan Griesinger. “We always gave each other encouragement to let them know they all looked good.”
After finishing up the project, more than 100 of the comforting creations were then donated in June to the hospital.
“Just knowing, all this time, we were creating these little special guys for humans that didn’t even exist yet and they’re going to be bringing comfort to these little babies and the families get to take them home, too,” Hammett said. “It just felt really special, and we were really excited to do it.”
The experience was another way for the residents to bond and enjoy themselves. Hammett said they spent the time laughing and learning from each other while they completed the project.
“We had a lot of fun,” said resident Marilyn Naylor. “We had a good time together and we’re learning every day.”
The experience was so rewarding for the residents that they plan to do it again next year, Hammett said. The group was also told by hospital staff about other helpful items – like blankets, covers and hats – they could make.
Now, though, there are other projects on the club’s radar. In November, there’s a craft fair, so soon each of the members will begin work on individual items to feature at their tables during the craft fair.
“What we’re starting now is hats, scarves and gloves that we’re going to be working on until the fall, so we can donate them to local homeless shelters and some women’s shelters,” Hammett said.
The group has already begun the effort, and several hats and scarves are almost completed. Projects like this are a way to support the community while keeping the women engaged with each other and building their relationships together, said Hammett.