By Molly Cerreta Smith
When Needlers’ member Debbie Perey retired a few years ago, she decided she wanted to give back to the community and was looking to do that through a craft specific to sewing or crocheting. As fate would have it, a post on the neighborhood app NextDoor popped up that noted the local Needlers group was looking for new members.
“I went to the very next group meeting,” says Perey. Started in 1996 by Mary Tallon and Marj Sherman, who are still active members today, the Needlers is a group of passionate and caring volunteers that create handmade treasures for those in need — including children in valley hospitals such as all the Banner locations and Phoenix Children’s, the VA and County hospitals and the DES Department of Development Disabilities. The organization’s mission is a heartwarming one — “Our gift is simple: human warmth and kindness to others in need. People of all ages are in need of love, kindness and support and we are thrilled to be able to provide that.”
To date, there are upwards of 20 women in the group — many of them in their 80s and 90s yet still graciously giving their time to help others. Of the group, Perey notes, “Everyone is very friendly and our meetings also serve as a social gathering.”
Meetings are held on the second and fourth Friday of every month (except during the summer) at the clubhouse of Desert Sky Mobile Home Park, located at 19802 North 32nd Street. During the two-hour sessions, the ladies crochet items including hats of all sizes, sweaters, blankets and lap blankets, baby booties, child and adult bibs, walker and wheelchair bags, and tote bags and they also stuff dolls and bears with fiber fill. The dolls are specifically designed for doctors to be able to draw on, in an effort to show children procedures that they are going to undergo and help them understand the process and not be afraid. Perey says there is a large table set up with the fiber fill and the bears and dolls that need stuffing, and during the meetings members stuff and talk.
“We sit and chat and have formed real friendships,” she says, adding, “The Needlers is really a special group of ladies. We just really want to be of service to the community.” And they are also of service to one another.
The group, many of which live right in the 32nd Street corridor, help one another with various needs such as taking each other to doctors’ appointments. Many of them also get together socially outside of their Needlers’ meeting requirements. Perey adds that they are currently accepting donations of materials as well as new members! “We would love to see some younger faces at our meetings, too,” she says.
For those looking to share their skill of crocheting, sewing or simply stuffing dolls and bears, the Needlers need you and are happy to accept new members. Those interested may visit https://5c62d30f101f1.site123.me/#page-top or call 480-492-9361.