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a group of members at the northwest family ymca pose for a picture during one of their handcrafting meetings

Every Thursday from 10 am to Noon, the Northwest Family YMCA holds its knitting, crocheting, and handcrafting group for the Active Older Adults (AOA). If you happen to be here during that time, you might see the group of talented ladies crafting away in the branch’s Community Room. Mary Antonio has been a YMCA member for 14 years. After joining, she was encouraged to check out the group, and she’s been hooked ever since. Mary has always loved knitting, especially when it comes to her 14 grandchildren.

“Most of us have already made enough items for our families so we can’t knit or crochet for them,” said Mary. “But we still love to knit and crochet, so we make it for others.”

What is special about this group is that they not only come together to share conversation and ideas, but they also have a strong connection to giving back to the community. They have even developed an optional donation drive where the items made are donated to various places in need, like The Veterans Outreach Center, Dimitri House, Mary Cariola, Open Door Mission, Battered Women's Shelter, LIVESTRONG, and more.

Being part of a group that gives back has kept Mary connected. She says that the group keeps her busy, socially engaged, and gives her time to practice her knitting. “I like everything about the group; the friendship, talking, laughing, and having a good time,” said Mary.

Through the community built at the YMCA, Mary met Mariam Brumfield. After retiring, Mariam wasn’t sure what she would do with the extra time on her hands, so she decided to join the Y. She had met Mary there through working out in the Wellness Center. Mary knew that Mariam enjoyed knitting, so she suggested that Mariam join the group.

“I like to knit, spend time with others, and learn new things,” said Mariam.

Miram also like that this group is open to everyone, noting that in the past younger members have stopped by, sometimes with parents, to learn. She is happy to create a space that is welcoming to all.

This group has made an impact in the lives of many members, including Doris Reece. Every day when she comes home from the Y her husband asks her “what did you learn today?” One thing she did learn was that sometimes, you need a guide to help get you started. Understanding the confusion and frustration in learning a new knit or crochet technique, Doris created a reference book. “It’s great being in the group because I get recommendations,” said Doris. “Now I have new places that I go to for my knitting and crocheting supplies.”

“The support from the ladies and the reference book Doris made, has made everything so much easier to understand,” said Tina Jenkins, the newbie of the group.

Tina joined the YMCA around Thanksgiving after learning of the Active Older Adult Thanksgiving luncheon. She has always wanted to learn how to knit but did not know where to start. At the luncheon, Tina spoke with some members that mentioned the knitting group that meets on Thursdays. Eager to learn, she made sure to be there for the next meeting.

Every stitch this groups weaves creates a tight-knit community. Chantal Chahal knows that. She started coming after her daughter encouraged her to try something new at the Y. And urged her to join the knitting group since she knew Chanta would benefit from it. “The group has brought me so many things,” said Chanta. “They are such good people and when you have good people around you, you feel good too.”

Stitch by stitch, this group has created friendships that are bound together by threads of laughter and learning.