When Mary Clark and her husband moved into their first home in West Akron in 1961, a neighbor invited her to join a new volunteer group known as TWIGS (Together With Important Goals), whose members create and assemble craft kits for the patients at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Today, Clark is still part of that same group. She was recently honored, along with 91-year-old Ann Brown, for 50 years of volunteer service. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of TWIGS.
“For many of us, TWIGS was an ideal way to volunteer while we were raising our kids,” said Judy Holder, who was recruited by Clark when she returned to the Akron area in 1964.
Holder would later become a member and president of the hospital’s Women’s Board.
Today, she and Clark are the two original members of TWIGS group #14. Holder is also a TWIG advisor, along with Marge Cook and Beth Hofacker, serving as liaisons between the hospital and the individual TWIG groups.
“Children shouldn’t have to be sick, but when they are, it’s nice to be able to give them something to make their time in the hospital a little more tolerable,” said Clark, who considers the craft kits a form of love. The kits are delivered to hospitalized patients on a Craft Cart staffed by volunteers, who may also help the children assemble their crafts.
The TWIG groups meet monthly, approximately 10 times a year, in each other’s homes. They often like to measure their commitment not in the hours they have spent cutting, labeling or bagging their crafts, but in the number of children they are able to reach.
“We try to make 50 kits a month,” said Cook, who is also a member of TWIG group #14. “That translates to reaching about 500 children a year through our group alone.”
There are currently 20 groups and 224 active members, ranging from homemakers and business owners to doctors and nurses. One member is a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy. Although most groups are located in Summit County, there’s a Mahoning Valley group in Canfield, another in Columbiana County and one in Stark County.
Just as their contributions through TWIG have been very rewarding, so have the friendships they’ve formed.
“It’s good for the soul and very renewing to spend time with giving people,” said Holder. “The older I get, the clearer this becomes.”
Craft kits are available for any hospital patient. If you know a patient who could benefit, call Volunteer Services at 330-543-8424. You may also call Volunteer Services if you are interested in becoming a TWIG volunteer or starting a TWIG group in your community.
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