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Crafts for a cause

Parkville woman uses favorite pastime to help those in need

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May 21st, 2014
woman standing in her craft room
Oak Crest resident Pat Heitmann is so passionate a

Pat Heitmann had a successful career with the Social Security Administration, but not until she retired did she find her true calling: using her love of crafting for a good cause.

“I believe I was put here on this Earth to help others, and that’s all I’m trying to do,” says Pat, who moved in 2013 to Crest, an Erickson Living community in Parkville, Md.

Pat has transformed much of her Oak Crest apartment home into a one-woman workshop where she sews quilts and purses; crochets scarves, baskets, and hats; and crafts her one-of-a-kind milk bottle bunnies.

“I think people are a little surprised when they walk in the front door and see two 8-foot craft tables in the middle of my living room,” says Pat. 

But when you love to make crafts as much as Pat does, forgoing a traditional living room set for a functioning workshop makes perfect sense.

“I start as soon as the sun comes up and spend about eight to ten hours working on crafts,” says Pat, who also works part-time as a bookkeeper for Charles Smith Photography Studios in Owings Mills and volunteers as a librarian at the Reisterstown Senior Center. 

Comfort quilts

One of her favorite crafts is making twin-size quilts for sick children at The Herman and Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore City. 

“I’ve got 34 quilt tops in my closet right now waiting to be assembled and sewn together, and I’ve got another half-closet-full that are finished and ready to be delivered,” says Pat.

Occasionally, Pat says she gets thank you notes from families who have received her quilts. 

“These poor kids and their families are suffering,” says Pat. “I just hope the quilts bring some comfort to them.”

The bulk of Pat’s crafts are showcased and sold in a display case outside of Oak Crest’s crafts studio. She also runs a table at the annual Oak Crest Craft Show and Sale. Her most popular item: milk bottle bunnies.

“I used to belong to a homemaker’s club, and that’s where I learned how to make the bunnies,” says Pat. “They’ve been selling like hotcakes! I’ve made 72 of them in just five weeks. I had someone request a Baltimore Orioles bunny, and that really took off. Now I have people asking for Ravens bunnies.” 

The bunny bodies are made of pint-sized glass bottles filled with rice and topped with a wooden ball with a painted face for the head. Felt arms and bunny ears are attached to each doll, and each bunny is dressed with a colorful outfit (which Pat also sews) and embellished with straw hats, flowers, and ribbons. 

Pat sells the bunnies for $10 each. Like all of her crafts, the proceeds from the bunnies go directly to Oak Crest’s Benevolent Care Fund. As a not-for-profit community, Oak Crest is dedicated to supporting residents who experience an unforeseen change in financial situation for reasons beyond their control. The Home for Life Commitment provides them with several options to protect their future. Oak Crest’s Residence and Care Agreement has complete details. 

Pat has raised more than $400 for the fund through her craft sales and has set a goal of $1,000.

Self-starter

Crafting has been a lifelong hobby for Pat, who learned how to knit when she was six.

“When I was growing up, we had a live-in maid who used to knit,” says Pat. “I asked her to teach me, but she told me I was too young. So I asked my mother to buy me some knitting needles and yarn, and I taught myself by watching our maid and copying what she did.”

Pat says living at Oak Crest gives her the freedom to now spend more time doing what she loves. 

“I used to spend a lot of time outside taking care of my lawn and taking care of the house,” says Pat. “I loved my house, but I was also thinking of the future. So over the last few years, I visited different retirement communities around the area. There was no comparison—Oak Crest is the best!”

Although she has been successful in selling her crafts, Pat stresses she has no plans to turn her hobby into a home business. 

“I’m not doing this for myself,” says Pat. “I’m just trying to help people by doing what I love. I’m having a lot of fun doing it.”

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