April 3, 2003
Patients benefit from volunteer's needle and thread
By Collin Johnson
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—When Ruth Kendrick’s husband died two years ago, she didn’t know what she would do with herself. What she found was a way to touch the lives of almost every patient who comes through the doors of Methodist Rehabilitation Center.
Kendrick, a retired schoolteacher from Georgia, loves to sew. And on a weekly basis, she sews for about 25 patients at the Jackson hospital. It’s an invaluable service to patients in wheelchairs, says Sandra Walker, director of volunteer services at Methodist Rehab.
“A while back we noticed that new patients didn’t have a way to carry personal belongings back and forth from their rooms to all the different therapy areas,” Walker recalled. “So Ruth decided to sew bags that can hang on their wheelchairs so they can carry keys, identification or whatever else they need with them.”
Kendrick made 1,300 of them in 2002 alone.
“I love doing this,” said Kendrick, who has lived in Jackson since 1960. “It’s a blessing for me to have found a way to help so many people.
“This has filled a big void in my life.”
Our patients are so grateful to her, Walker said. “We get thank you letters all the time asking how they can get in touch with her. Rehab is hard work and anything that makes it easier is that much more appreciated.”
As the project started, materials to make the bags were scarce so Walker and Kendrick went to garage sales to find bargains. Then, Walker wrote a letter to The Clarion-Ledger’s Jack Sunn.
“The response was overwhelming,” she recalled. “We still get responses to that letter, but what really helped was when Goodwill stepped in.”
Goodwill has had a long relationship with Methodist Rehab, co-sponsoring an annual art show for artists with disabilities. Goodwill donated several bolts of fabric to the hospital so Kendrick could continue her work.
You can see examples of that work up and down the halls of Methodist Rehab, said Clay Steen, 34, of Clinton. Steen, a spinal cord injury patient, recently received his own bag in a rare personal delivery from Kendrick.
“It’s so nice to have this,” he said. “I’ve got lots of things I’ve been carrying in my lap while trying to push my chair at the same time. This is a big help and I really appreciate her doing this for me.”
Kendrick continues looking for ways to contribute more. “I’m working on making bags for walkers. They have to be sewn differently and I’m learning how to do it.”
She’s also looking into ways to make bags for electric chairs.
“Receiving letters from patients means so much to me, but I feel like I get more out of doing this than they do. They don’t know how much they help me.”
For more information:
Seamstress helps patients, fills void in life | The Clarion-Ledger
Ruth Kendrick, left, of Jackson, talks to Clay Steen, of Clinton, after giving him a sewn bag to go on his wheelchair.