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Doing good where it’s needed

Sara Martin

Created date

August 20th, 2013

Nancy Bell is in her first year as chairman of the community outreach committee at Eagle s Trace, and already she has undertaken several sizeable projects.

Dress a Girl

Most recently, Nancy and her committee recruited seamstresses at the West Houston Erickson Living community to make sundresses for girls in Africa. One of our residents, Lily Barras, has a friend who makes dresses for distribution through Mercy Ships, an international charity, says Nancy. Lily asked if the community outreach committee would come alongside to help make the dresses. The community outreach committee agreed to help and dubbed the new undertaking the Dress a Girl project. Committee members assembled 70 kits of fabric, bias tape, and elastic, along with instructions for making the simple dresses. Nancy, a retired home economics teacher, set up a table in the Audubon Clubhouse with dresses in various stages of completion to show other residents how they are made. We had about 30 women participate in the project, which ran from April to June, says Nancy. It was a very flexible project because residents could make the dresses when it was convenient for them.

A good fit

Mary Wright was a professional seamstress and tailor during her working years, so when she learned of the Dress a Girl project, she was eager to help. I have a lot of material left over from other projects, says Mary, who converted half of the living room in her extra-large, one-bedroom apartment home into a sewing studio. I was glad to use it for a good cause. Mary decided to forgo using the pre-assembled kits, opting instead to use her surplus of material. I cut the fabric for five dresses at a time, says Mary. I love to sew, so this project was a good fit for me. All told, Mary made more than 100 dresses for the project, although she was quick to point out that she wasn t aiming for any particular number. Sewing is one of the things I enjoy, she says. I was glad to use my skills for a good cause.

Supporting Mercy Ships

Other participants were drawn to the project because of its affiliation with Mercy Ships. As soon as I heard these dresses would be distributed by Mercy Ships, I signed up to make five of them, says resident Marianne Guy, who served on two Mercy Ships missions to Guatemala and the Dominican Republic with her husband Guy. Guy was a pharmacist, and I was a nurse, says Marianne. We first heard of Mercy Ships when we were living in Florida. Each Mercy Ship is like a floating hospital providing life-changing surgeries for people living near port cities. Mercy Ships, which has its international operations center in Garden Valley, Tex., currently operates one hospital ship, theAfrica Mercy, which provides care to communities in West Africa lacking critical services. The dresses made by Eagle s Trace residents will be distributed in West Africa.

Helping others

For Nancy and the community outreach committee, the completion of the Dress a Girl project was particularly satisfying. At the end of the day, it s good to know we ve helped people who really need it, says Nancy. That s what this committee is all about.