Tea and cake, and giving out blankets at a women’s meeting in Westlake.
Over 1 000 blankets were donated at COLOUR, and last week we had the pleasure of starting to give them out to people in the city. We gave out about 40 blankets at a women’s support group, which meets every Thursday afternoon at the Westlake Community Centre, and which Lucinda is involved with, alongside Sarah Prince, who regularly contributes to our Sisterhood Blog. The women in the group all come from Westlake Village. They’ve done the Shine course, and are about to embark on three weeks of basic sewing skills with Myli Schlebusch, who heads up our Knitting Sisterhood, and who’ll be showing them how to make tote bags (with appliqued hearts on them). Shirley Thomas, who helps out at the Community Centre, and is part of the women’s group, said of their weekly meetings: ‘You feel like a different person when you come here.’
To give you some background, Westlake Village is a small, close-knit community of approximately 7 000–8 000 people. Anthea Thebus, one of the leaders in the group, who lives in Westlake herself, told me that there are only about 700 houses in the neighbourhood, but most of them have shacks and bungalows in their backyards. (There are an estimated 850 informal backyard residences.) Every Sunday, a bus full of people from Westlake comes to one of our morning services in Century City, and the women always come to Sisterhood. In fact, 75 ladies from Westlake were able to come to COLOUR thanks to sponsorships.
At Thursday’s meeting, Lucinda asked if anyone wanted to share about COLOUR, and a few ladies came forward to say how much they’d enjoyed it. ‘One of the things I loved about it was how the men treated you,’ a young woman, named Arlene said. ‘I’ve never had men in my life treat me so special. I think that stood out for me, that men could treat you so special.’ She added: ‘It was amazing being there. Thank you for inviting us along, and for subsidising us, and just making it possible for us to go. We salute you!’
There was tea, coffee, cupcakes, donuts, and lots of talking. New women were welcomed (and hugged). Shirley introduced the three Dooley kids, who were able to join us as it was Ascension Day, which was a public holiday at their school. Sarah Prince spoke a message about embracing the present moment. We prayed. And then it was time to give out the brand-new fleece blankets tied with ribbons, each accompanied by a card specially written by a woman who’d donated a blanket. ‘When you wrap yourself in this blanket, you’ve got to remember that Jesus loves you,’ said Lucinda.
‘It’s a gift from God,’ said Mary, the elderly lady who sat next to me, adding: ‘I know the Lord has blessed me today with this blanket.’ Another woman told me: ‘I love my new blanket very much, especially for my children. If I go to Church, I can keep them warm. It’s very nice.’ A third lady added: ‘I’m going to wrap my baby inside here.’ While yet another lady said: ‘God comforted me with this blanket today. All my problems and burdens I give to the Lord.’
The evening before, over 300 blankets had been given out at our Mitchell’s Plain service. And we were returning to the Community Centre the following day to give out blankets to all the kids who were coming to a Cupcake Party at the Orphan Care Foundation’s Kids Club.
But on Thursday afternoon, despite the winter chill and the grey clouds overhead, everyone went home smiling and happy – the women, because it had been a fun and uplifting meeting, and they’d been blessed with blankets, and us volunteers, because it had been a fun and uplifting meeting, and we’d been blessed to be a blessing.
Posted by Michelle Buchel-Kruger