I’m a big believer in inter-generational experiences leading to the well-being of everyone involved. There's something about learning from different generations that seems critical in our development into people with values, traditions and a sense of belonging. In our American culture though, this isn’t always the norm and you often have to create opportunities to bring people together (so we did just that)!
Historically, sewing and handcrafts were an art that was handed down from generation to generation. While some young people are still lucky to have older generations to guide them, and some older people have younger generations to guide, I know many are not. I can't tell you how many times I hear from people "I wish I had paid attention when my mom tried to teach me to sew" or "I used to love watching my Grandmother sew but never took the time to learn from her". There's a wistful longing to connect to women before us in this handcraft that many of my students are chasing after now. I believe we have so much to gain from learning from other generations (whether they be younger or older than us!) and something in the art is lost when we don’t do that.
With that in mind, I reached out to the Elmwood Senior Center in West Hartford to develop a program that would bring together sewing, multiple generations and a service project-- and luckily they were happy to help! For this inaugural program we paired up 5 students and 5 seniors. Together they created tote bags and zipper pouches to be donated to Journey Home, a local organization "committed to ending chronic homelessness in the Greater Hartford region". Through the generosity of the Hartford Stitch community we were able to stuff these bags full of toiletries for Journey Home's clients. And when I say stuff, I mean STUFF!
The program ran for 4 weeks with everyone coming together for one hour a week (next time we'll bump it up a little longer so we're not rushed at the end) and, while I may make a few tweaks next time, it was everything I hoped it would be on the social side. By the last day (which finished with an ice cream social) buddies were exchanging handmade gifts, contact information and promises to do it again together next time we offered it!
The program is free to attend and open to seniors who register through the Elmwood Senior Center and currently enrolled Hartford Stitch sewing students. Our next program will be in April so stay tuned for more information if you're interested!