At any time and any where inside the walls of Karen’s Place Maternity Center, you might find residents crocheting.

It could be a solitary crafter making a scarf or several in counseling sessions crocheting as they listen or talk. It could even be after dinner, when residents gather during their free time.

Some of these women hadn’t made anything since they were children. Some are just learning.

They have one thing in common: They crochet to help others and to allow themselves some therapy.

Karen’s Place is a recovery center for women run by Addiction Recovery Care. Women come from across the state. Some are pregnant, some have babies with them, some have come as part of court orders, but all are there to heal. It turns out, crocheting has helped.

Kiki Whitehead of Louisville said she came “to get her life together.” A crocheter, she likes to make blankets and made them for babies living at Karen’s Place. Then, she thought it would be a good idea to donate items to the Salvation Army after seeing some of the clients standing outside in the cold.

“Instead of having idle time, I decided I’d crochet,” Whitehead said. “I love making blankets because in a place like this, it gives me time to sit back and relax and clear my head.”

Whitehead, who has been at Karen’s Place for about six months, has taught about a dozen other residents to crochet.

“Give me about five minutes and I can teach you,” she said.

Jamie Kemper didn’t have to be taught: She has crocheted since she was in middle school. She had a babysitter who taught her.

The Frankfort native said she likes to make headbands, scarves and especially toboggans.

“It brings me an inner peace,” Kemper said. “It’s something I do when I’m still, so it brings me peace and joy and it’s a second blessing to give it to someone who needs it. You’re doing it for selfish and unselfish reasons.”

Crocheting and doing for others has been part of recovery, enabled enabled by Susy Grimmett, SNAP ed assistant senior nutrition education program, University of Kentucky.

Although Grimmett’s job is to teach about nutrition, she also gets to know the women at Karen’s Place, finds out what their interests are and uses that to encourage them any way she can.

“They are remarkable,” she said of the residents. “They are an inspiration to me.”

It’s a surprise that some of them have returned to a craft many learned from their mothers and grandmothers.

“Some of them said they hated it and would never do it,” Grimmett said. “One of the ladies who said, ‘If I ever start crocheting, just take me outside and shoot me’ is crocheting now.”

In fact, Grimmett said, sometimes you can hear them in the evening, sitting together, crocheting, talking and laughing.

“They have formed such a bond between them,” she said. “They talk about their issues and recovery and they are more open becaue they feel closer to each other. I’m so proud of them.”

Director Angela Null said she was astonished by their talent.

“It’s beyond a blessing to see them grow in that and that they’re understanding themselves,” Null said. “Part of recovery is discovering what you want for yourself and what God wants for you. The desire to give back to the community and to see their spirits rise is so inspiring.”

She said the women faced special challenges, as everyone did, during 2020.

“It was hard to find blessings in 2020, but we found one here,” she said.

Chaplain Jessica Owens said it’s difficult to keep the crocheters in yarn, but Grimmett has been a great help in getting materials.

Owens said crocheting has helped residents get through the pandemic.

“We got through the summer and were able to get out a little,” she said. “Then (the pandemic surged again) and it started to get cold, it was more difficult to find things to keep them busy.”

She said the group has donated two or three garbage bags full of items to the Salvation Army.

Andrea Garibay, who came to Karen’s Place from Florence, contributed to the donations by making blankets, eventually making toboggans and finding those to be her favorite.

“I can get them done very quickly, in a few hours,” she said. “It’s a good sense of accomplishment and it’s definitely a coping skill that takes your mind off  things. Even in classes, we are allowed to crochet. It keeps your hands busy, but your mind is still in the class and you can receive everything you’re getting from the class. I’m a very active person and a workaholic. I want to be productive.”

Whitehead agreed.

“It relieves my anxiety and keeps my focus on God,” she said. “It helps me give back. ... It’s the best thing ever. It’s healing and helps us get through tough times.”

(606) 326-2661 |

lward@dailyindependent.com

Karen’s Place Maternity Center is at 2221 Central Ave. Donations are accepted. Call (606) 254-8943. For help, call (606) 638-0938.

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