ROSWELL, Ga. – They come from Alpharetta, they come from Johns Creek, they come from Roswell and they come from Cumming just to do one of the things they love most. Sew.
They’re the Chattahoochee Evening Stars Quilt Guild, and they love to make quilts, learn about quilting and put on their annual show. But they also care about their community. And one way these ladies (and yes, one guy) do it is by hand-stitching tote bags for the mothers at the Drake House in Roswell.
The Drake House is a nonprofit dedicated to helping single mothers who are homeless get back on their feet. For those who qualify – no alcohol or drugs, working or actively looking for work, no boyfriends about – it is a chance to stabilize their lives, get working again and save some money to move into a place of one’s own.
For the Evening Stars ladies, it is a chance for the guild to do something for the community, said Evening Stars Program Chairwoman Sharon Bessom. So they took on the task of sewing up 65 tote bags made of upholstery material and lined with cotton inside.
Each gaily patterned bag is filled with items for the mothers such as pocket umbrellas, a sewing kit (of course), a letter-size notebook, hand sanitizer and other knick-knacks.
“One of our goals was that each bag be different, so that they are all individual,” Bessom said. “Then we put ourselves in a woman’s shoes and ask ourselves what we would want to see in one of these bags. It’s a cause that is near and dear to us.”
For Drake House volunteer and Resource Coordinator Lynn Canty, these bags make a wonderful greeting gift for the moms who are lucky enough to qualify for one of 15 apartments that make up the Drake House program.
“It’s a keepsake for them that shows people gave of their time,” Canty said. “It’s a message from the community that people care about them.”
Considering they are handmade, along with the materials that come with them and the labor that goes into the bags, Canty put a value of at least $100 a piece on the bags.
The Drake House can house up to 15 families with an on-site resident manager. It has a step-by-step program to get families counseling, get mothers working and get them into a place of their own with money in the bank and transportation to get to work.
Meanwhile, children remain in whatever school they have been attending, so that there is as little social interruption as possible.
“This not a religious organization, but it is based on Judeo-Christian values. We have great support from the faith community, and we are community-based,” said Canty.
The Chattahoochee Evening Stars has 100 members with a waiting list – they keep the membership “manageable.” But they invite visitors to attend their meetings the first Monday of the month at the Alpharetta Activity Center at the city’s North Park on Hopewell Road.
There is always a speaker, and guests are welcome.