Some volunteer with a hammer; others with a needle. Once a month, 15 people from the Grand River Needlepoint Guild gather together to needle pictures for future Habitat Kent homeowners.
When I visited them recently, they were quick to clarify that a variety of ages and genders enjoy needlepointing. One needler spoke up for the guild: “It’s not just us old ladies that do this, we promise.” She also clarified a common misconception. “It’s different than stitching. Needlepoint allows you to get creative with a much broader palette of techniques and threads.”
The Grand River Needlepoint Guild is affiliated with the American Needlepoint Guild, which was founded in 1972 and now has almost 9,500 national and international members. The Grand River Needlepoint Guild started meeting in western and central Michigan in 1994. Last year, they began partnering with Habitat Kent and have needlepointed 22 pictures since.
(The beginning materials of the needlepoint picture, the average picture takes 15-20 hours to make.)
Laurie Russell, a longtime volunteer, and supporter of Habitat Kent, was inspired after a conversation with her friend. “She told me about her guild’s involvement with a Habitat affiliate in Naples, Florida. I figured, why don’t we do that here in Kent County?”
Since Laurie reached out to Habitat Kent, the guild had needlepointed pictures including the Habitat logo and the name of the homebuyer family. It’s a special moment at the dedication when the pictures are presented to the family.
“We’ve really enjoyed helping out,” Laurie said. “It’s great that this can be a consistent partnership throughout the year for us. It’s not just a one-time thing.”
“We like writing the family’s name and adding that personal touch to it,” explained one of the members. Our pictures add decoration to their home and it’s one of the first things they’ll put up.”
(One of the needle point photos presented at a Habitat home dedication)
After customizing 22 pictures for Habitat Kent homeowners, the guild chuckles about the diversity of last names that they’ve needlepointed. “I think I counted 27 letters for a hyphenated last name I did,” said one member. “That one was difficult to fit on the picture. But I did it!”
It takes around 15-20 hours to complete a picture. “About one hour per square inch,” they said. So in total, the guild has donated around 210 hours to needlepointing hope for local families. “We’re hoping to come to a dedication so we can hand the final product to the partner families in person.”
“If we could say one thing to Habitat it would be to keep building those homes. Because we want to keep needlepointing,” added Russell.
In my short time here at Habitat, I've been inspired by the numerous amount of stories of hardworking volunteers, families, and staff. My prayer is that in my position as Community Outreach and Marketing Assistant, I can do these stories justice.