A group of retired women wanted to put themselves to work doing something they love while simultaneously creating something that would benefit others. Thus the Kneedlers group at Woodland Pond at New Paltz was created by Dorothy Wahl in 2010. Wahl has three grandsons who were serving in the military at the time, and she always had a great compassion for veterans. She decided to start a knitting group which would meet regularly to knit items for veterans. Since the startup of the Kneedlers, the group has expanded its outreach and now provides hats to women who have lost their hair from chemotherapy and choose not to wear wigs. The group meets on the first and third Friday of each month at 3:00 p.m. In addition to the meetings, many of the members work on items during their personal time. Jean MacAvery, a fellow resident at Woodland Pond, is one of the most dedicated participants, and she’s been involved since day one.
“At first we started out making afghans for veterans at Castle Point Campus of the VA Hudson Valley Health Care System,” said MacAvery. “So far, we have donated more than 60 blankets for veterans. We all knit brightly colored eight inch squares, then a group member crochets a border on each square and another member attaches all the squares together to create the final touches on the blanket. It’s definitely a multifaceted effort, which is wonderful because we have ladies who knit, or crochet, or sew or do a combination of all those things. From there, I came up with the idea of making afghans and lap robes for people undergoing chemo treatments. I had an extended family member who was undergoing chemotherapy at the Infusion Center whom I had made a few things for, and I thought others in her situation could benefit from the items our group makes. Since then we have created all sorts of homemade items for a variety of organizations that serve people.”
The group has also donated more than 30 afghans and lap robes to fellow residents at Woodland Pond who are in skilled nursing or healthcare. Last Christmas, the group made more than 20 hats for school children served by Family of New Paltz. Family of New Paltz included the hats in special backpacks that were stuffed with clothing and school essentials. The residents have also eagerly contributed more than 20 afghans to the women’s shelter in New Paltz and more than 15 afghans to patients in the Health Alliance Hospitals in Kingston. They plan to continue donating items to all these groups and are preparing to make baby clothes and accessories for female veterans who have newborn babies.
“All of the items we make are bright and cheerful,” said MacAvery. “We want to lift up the spirits of those we serve by using vibrant colors that bring warmth and love into their hearts. It is gratifying to use our talents and give back. It’s so easy because we are simply doing something we are passionate about for people who need extra love. Volunteerism is a lost art, and we are filled with joy knowing we are doing something for the good of others. I have always looked for ways to volunteer, and it is even more rewarding when it is something you are enthusiastic about doing.”
MacAvery makes sure the group has all the materials they need to make the items planned for each meeting. She keeps tabs on supplies, brings patterns and helps coordinate the donations. Fellow residents and the surrounding community donate money for supplies and materials to maintain the group’s efforts. They participate in Woodland Pond’s annual Kaleidoscope of the Arts Show, selling scarves and hats to raise additional money for supplies. In addition to her work with the Kneedlers, MacAvery also serves on the Interfaith Committee and the Welcome Committee at Woodland Pond. Previously, she spent two years serving on the Residents’ Council. She enjoys staying engaged and finds that doing so helps her meet new people.
“The Kneedlers are doing outstanding work for residents in the community and people in the surrounding area,” said Michelle Gramoglia, executive director at Woodland Pond. “According to Senior Corps, over 26 million senior citizens in this country have already discovered the sense of purpose and accomplishment that comes from volunteering. I’m delighted that seniors at Woodland Pond also find purpose in giving back and have created groups such as the Kneedlers that meet regularly to serve others. We also have residents who participate in annual volunteer events. I am inspired and think highly of their efforts.”
If you would like to make a monetary donation to the Kneedlers, donate acrylic yarn for their, or have questions about other types of donations, please contact Jean MacAvery at 845-256-5586.
ABOUT WOODLAND POND
Woodland Pond at New Paltz is located in New Paltz, New York, and is a not-for-profit, upscale, continuing care retirement community (CCRC), tailored exclusively for those 62 and over. Nestled beneath the shoulder of the breathtaking Shawangunk Ridge, the community opened in 2009 and is the only CCRC in the Mid-Hudson Valley area. Woodland Pond offers an 83-acre campus that includes a professionally-staffed Health Center and a Community Center with an art studio, fitness center, heated indoor swimming pool, salon, market basket, billiard room, library, woodworking shop, game room, computer lab and more.
As a true CCRC, Woodland Pond at New Paltz offers independent living with a choice of a private residence (24 cottages and 177 apartments), services, and amenities. Many of the apartment styles and all of the cottages are now either fully reserved and/or occupied. Under Woodland Pond’s Life Care program, residents are provided privileged admission to the assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing center. Life Care functions similar to a long-term care policy wrapped in a healthy and fulfilling resort lifestyle – so that residents can enjoy this chapter of their lives in an inspiring and supportive environment free from worrying about future escalating long-term care expenses.
Woodland Pond caters to a diverse group of accomplished individuals with a variety of interests and a zest for life. The community is operated by HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, an integrated health care system committed to providing quality and compassionate medical care for patients, their families and the Hudson Valley community. For more details, please visit: http://wpatnp.org.