BY BRYN PHINNEY
Every year, thousands of babies have to be sent home from the hospital with nothing more than a disposable diaper and a small hospital blanket. But Easter and spring are all about celebrating new life, and the ladies of Holly Creek Life Plan Community are making sure newborns in need are enveloped – literally – in love.
Each week, the Holly Creek Art Gallery is filled with clicks of knitting needles, crochet hooks and the lively conversation of approximately 15 community residents. Together they laugh, eat cookies (there are always cookies), tuck patterned material into blankets and make baby essentials. for almost 10 years now. Never has it produced more than today, with almost 80 articles donated last weekend.
All of their work goes to non-profit Arvada Warm Hearts~Warm Babies (WHWB) to help approximately 60 hospitals, crisis pregnancy resource centers, shelters and other Front Range agencies welcome newborns in need. Earlier this month, volunteers from the organization came to Holly Creek to share their first-hand stories of how the items bring love and joy to many families. The charity folds donated needlework and knitting into layettes or “starter kits” for newborns, which include blankets, jumper/outfit, onesie, sleepwear, socks, hat, bottle and basic toiletries. Volunteers also provide handmade clothes for babies who don’t survive or miscarry.
WHWB was formed 22 years ago because of a woman who lost a baby. Glenda Bredeson, vice chair of the organization’s board of directors, explained that “our founder started making and donating baby booties to the hospital because it was cathartic, and the group formed from there”. Since 2000, the group has grown from about sixty volunteers when it was incorporated to about 400 in twelve work groups (located from Loveland to Colorado Springs) including that of Holly Creek.
“I finish four covers every week,” shares Marvel Fisher, one of Holly Creek’s most dedicated cover makers, adding that it takes about two hours for each one.
The ladies work together to ensure that all elements of the program run smoothly, with everyone participating as they can. This week, the group discussed adding crochet octopuses to their list of items to try, after learning from WHWB President Sandi Powis how they are used to help little ones in intensive care. Some ladies had the stick for the creature’s heads, others had the yarn, and still others the skill of crocheting.
“It’s the best addiction I could imagine,” Bredeson said, and those at Needles and Threads certainly agree. Holly Creek group coordinator Priscilla Stenman has been on both sides of the equation, having been thrilled with the “little outfits when my kids were born”, and now with the opportunity to help make them. “We love doing it,” she shared, and knowing where the outfits go is worth all the work.
“Sometimes we get thank yous, mostly from agencies,” Bredeson explained when she spoke with the group Needles and Threads, but sometimes there are pictures of moms, and then “it’s so wonderful to see the babies wear the things we made.” The stories are also memorable “A mother came to speak at a volunteer lunch and we were all in tears because she had lost her baby three weeks before. She wanted to let us know how much we had done meant to her…she bought one of our outfits with a little cardigan and a bow tie on it, she said it didn’t make it better, but it made it better.
The pandemic hasn’t slowed the need, and the only way WHWB can stay on top of demand is “our amazing volunteers,” Powis said. “We have been blessed again and again. Often we don’t even have time to think about running out of something before we get it. In its spirit, the organization is as much for Holly Creek and Front Range volunteers as it is for babies.
“It’s important to know that you are needed, and you certainly are,” Powis shared with the group. “You can’t buy these things at Walmart – it’s that artisanal touch,” – from a group of kind-hearted neighbors in Holly Creek to moms, dads and babies across our state.
Located at 5500 E. Peakview Avenue in Centennial, Colorado, Holly Creek is owned and operated by Christian Living Communities, a Denver-based nonprofit organization. CLC has been providing quality senior care in the South Denver metro area since 1972. For more information, visit www.hollycreekcommunity.com.
To learn more about Warm Hearts-Warm Babies, please visit their website at… warmheartswarmbabies.org.