Colleagues knit together friendship and service

Disability and Community Services group warms the hearts of many, including the knitters themselves

By Kristen O’Reilly and Bryan Goodchild

UMass Medical School Communications

December 20, 2011

What started as an informal way to get to know colleagues, and maybe learn a new skill during a lunch break, has turned into an effort that will bring warmth to those in need. About a dozen employees from Commonwealth Medicine’s Disability and Community Services (DCS), under the guidance of skilled knitter—and patient teacher—RoseMary Scala, have been busily knitting while enjoying each other’s company and helping the community.

The idea for the group came out of a social committee that was formed when several DCS units were combined under one roof. The committee was looking for ways for colleagues from the different units to get to know each other better and have fun at the same time. Scala mentioned that she had a talent in knitting and would be happy to teach or organize others with a similar passion.

The group members have been gathering in a conference room at lunch time since the summer, knitting hats and blankets for UMass Memorial Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit, and creating enough squares to put together a warm blanket for the charity Warm Up America, a national organization that distributes blankets knitted or crocheted by volunteers from around the country.

“There are a lot of very, very caring people in our group, but they don’t have time—they’re running all over the place,” said Scala. “And yet, they’re finding the time to do this. That says something about the people who work here.”

Some members of the group were already skilled knitters. Others were beginners who were eager to learn. Not everyone can come every week, but if they have the time, they stop in to help. Once the squares are stitched together to make the first warm blanket, the group will decide where it is most needed in their community, which is encouraged by Warm Up America. And then they are planning to start on another one.

“It’s wonderful to get these people together to do something creative, and in doing so, they are doing something that is going to help the community and they are making new friends outside of their respective groups,” said Social Committee member Lori Frascolla. “They like it, they are having a good time, and it’s volunteerism at its best.”

Members of the knitting group are: April Cardona, Miranda Craig, Daphne Henderson, Esther Oppong Abebrese, Sue Rousseau, Michele Roy, Tricia Ryan, Marie Santillo, RoseMary Scala, Linda Snyder and Karen Coderre.