Sewing machines for Haiti – Leavenworth Sisters of Charity – A collaborative project helping develop a sustainable supplementary income in support of ministry and community needs.
Following the Vincentian charism of linking persons of means with those in need, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth (SCLs) reached out to Leavenworth and Lansing parishes in August and September for what’s been dubbed “the sewing machine project” to assist the Sisters of Saint Anthony of Fondwa, Haiti.
The appeal resulted in an outstanding response that included six Singer treadle sewing machines, refurbished cabinets and small sewing boxes with supplies – all of which will be shipped to Fondwa this fall. Sister Ann Barton, SCL, who is coordinating the initiative stateside, said that purpose of the “sewing machine project” is to help the Sisters in Haiti develop a sustainable supplementary income in support of ministry and community needs. They are beginning a new activity of sewing school uniforms, women’s dresses, vestments and altar linens for parishes, as well as household items. Because electrical power is intermittent in Haiti, the request went out for the old-fashioned treadle machines that don’t require electricity.
Sister Ann acknowledged the generosity of the following individuals who donated sewing machines: Janet Bergman, Barbara Hagemeister, Sister Paula Rose Jauernig, SCL, Evelyn Lange, Chris McManaman of Cave Man Crafts (Topeka, Kan.) and Clare Vanderstaay. Chris happened to be in the J and M Sewing Center, Holton, Kan., the day Sister Anita Sullivan, SCL, was there purchasing belts for the machines for the project. In their conversation while waiting, Chris generously offered to contribute a machine to the cause.
J and M Sewing Center has been very helpful with advice. Two new machine heads were purchased from them that will also go to Haiti. The new heads – while still being basic – offer a number of fancy stitches the Sisters will enjoy using for their project.
Tim Scanlon and Joe Fink (alumni of Immaculata High School) provided transportation along with Cheryl Highman and Tom Waller of the SCL transportation department. “Our maintenance department, particularly Jeff deHerrera, refurbished the machines, which now run like ‘tops’!” Sister Ann says.
Various SCLs donated items for the small sewing boxes to accompany each machine. Heart to Heart International will ship the machines and supplies. Sister Ann has written several foundations requesting funding to purchase fabrics and notions. Sister Claudette Prevot, CSSAF, superior of the congregation in Haiti, is leading this new development project. Sister Mickelsie Boujour, CSSAF, has been taking sewing classes and will instruct other members and assist Sister Claudette.
The Sisters of Saint Anthony were founded in 1996. The SCLs met the new community in 2001 when a group of SCLs and one SCL Associate traveled to Fondwa in response to directives of the 1998 Chapter/meeting of the Sisters. The thrust to experience life with those daily facing poverty led to a study of the works of the Sisters in Fondwa and the Association of Peasants under the direction of Father Joseph Philippe, CSSP.
The earthquake of 2010 claimed the life of one of the members of the new religious community and the orphaned infant whom she was attempting to rescue. The elementary/secondary school, Sisters’ quarters, guest house and much of the infrastructure of the Fondwa area were completely destroyed. Against many odds but with great faith and hope, the Sisters of St. Anthony and the entire community of the Fondwa area continue with the work of re-construction and transformation, Sister Ann concluded.
Pictured above Tom Waller, Sister Paula Rose Jauernig and Cheryl Highman.
Story and graphics courtesy of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth.