Huntington UMC Receives ‘Vision Award’ for Exemplary Service

Date Posted: 10/22/2015

In appreciation for over 6500 hours of sewing, the Loose Threads group at Huntington UMC was honored by a state agency in September.
It was thrilling to win a trophy in a special ceremony at the state capital, but the ladies of the Loose Threads group at Huntington UMC in the East District were even more moved by the thank you cards from the residents of the Lufkin State Supported Living Center, expressing their gratefulness for their labors of love. Their giving spirit manifests itself through the hemming of pants, custom made clothing, and handmade slippers and mittens.
Since 2011, the group has donated more than 6,500 volunteer hours designing and sewing items to make life better for the residents. About a dozen members and ladies from the community meet in their special sewing room on Thursdays from 9am-2pm to make clothing protectors and caddies that residents can hang on their wheelchairs or walkers to hold belongings while freeing their hands. The group uses a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns on a wide assortment of projects, giving the residents a choice and chance to express their individuality.
The Center nominated the Loose Threads group in the “CHOICE” category for this year’s Vision Awards, sponsored by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) – and they won. Huntington UMC Pastor Bill Lanigan did not know the true significance of the award until he arrived in Austin and heard about the other very impressive winners being recognized. “It was really quite a presentation of what is being done statewide, including an award for a woman who has served a state school in Abilene for 50 years,” he admits.  “We represented East Texas well.”
Vision Awards are offered in three categories: Dignity, Wellness and Choice, complimenting the agency’s vision that aging Texans be supported in ways that enhance individual well-being. “I am so proud of this group,” he adds. “The only thing I do is collect donations that are dropped off at the church on a regular basis, but these women do all kinds of things. One day they are making layettes for still born babies and the next they are altering the band uniforms for the high school – always making sewing into an outreach ministry that gets quite a bit of buzz around the community.”

One of the group’s originals, Sandy Sheffield says the Loose Threads ministry started about five years ago and still boasts a half dozen ‘originals’ but has grown to be an ecumenical ministry, even involving others who do not have a church home. “One of our biggest contributions,” says Sandy, “is sewing for CPS agencies from Texarkana to the Texas coast.” Many times, she explains, CPS has to take children out of a home with nothing, since clothing and toys may be coated with harmful residue from drugs. “These ladies provide clothing and toys on a regular basis for CPS,” adds Bill.
A Special “God-incidence
“When we were in Austin, we had time to go to a fabric store unlike any near Huntington,” shares Sandy, “and we were ecstatic to find bolts of flannel on a huge markdown, so we bought it knowing we would need it for baby blankets someday. Just a few days later I got a call from CPS that they would be adopting out 21 babies in November!  We have now made over 30 blankets and are going to personalize them with the child’s name and date of adoption.”
In the summers, the ladies bring their grandchildren to help, and the pastor’s sons even get in on the action, working a procedure on a machine they enjoy operating. Adds Sandy, “This ministry is truly a community effort, and if people can’t sew they can wash and organize fabric or some other aspect of the project. It is an amazing example of the body of Christ and has been a blessing to each of us, personally, since the day we started.”