Martha Walton has been living at Castle Pointe at Baywinde in Webster, New York, with Tiny, her cat, for “seven wonderful years.” About two months ago, she came across an article in the paper about a program called Dress a Girl Around the World. The program, coordinated by the Angels of Mercy organization, helps volunteers make dresses out of new, sturdy cotton fabric for girls across the globe who can’t afford dresses of their own.
Martha thought she could bring the program to Castle Pointe and her neighbors at Sage Harbour just in time for Make A Difference Day, the largest national day of community service, on Oct. 26.
“There is so much talent [at Castle Pointe and Sage Harbour] and so many resources that I just knew there was something we could do to make a difference,” Martha said.
Martha pitched the idea to Cindy Caprio, the program director at Castle Pointe, who immediately got in touch with Angels of Mercy. They set a date for the volunteers to visit Castle Pointe and introduce the program to residents.
To say the first meeting was a success would be an understatement.
“From the very first time we met, we had a packed room,” Cindy said. “It was overwhelming in a positive way for both the residents and the volunteers who came. They were touched.”
The Angels of Mercy volunteers began by showing the residents a short movie of the dresses being delivered to young girls in Africa.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” Cindy said. “[The Angels of Mercy volunteers’] passion was contagious, and that’s a huge part of why this program has been so successful.”
Cindy believes that the Dress a Girl Around the World program has been perfect for residents because it allows them to tap into their creativity while helping children in need at the same time.
“They’ve been cleaning out their old sewing and embroidering kits to contribute to the supplies,” Cindy says. “I just received two huge boxes of scrapbooking items from a resident’s personal caregiver too.”
Residents also enjoy the flexibility that dressmaking affords them. When and where they participate is totally up to them. They enjoy designing their dresses with friends in one of the social rooms, and many residents–particularly those with their own sewing machines–like to create dresses in their apartments. No matter how they do it, the results are always rewarding.
“Every dress has a pocket, and every pocket has a doll,” Martha says.
The dolls are often made to match their respective dresses.
By the time Make A Difference Day rolled around on Oct. 26, residents had made about 20 dresses and 20 dolls to be delivered to girls in Africa. Another 12 dress and doll kits had gone home with residents for them to continue to work on.The Dress a Girl Around the World program has been such a success that Angels of Mercy volunteers will continue to visit Baywinde every month to help more residents get involved.