How long have you lived in Hernando County, and where do you live? Where did you live previously?
We've been here in High Point for 161/2 years. Before moving to Florida, we lived in Middletown, N.Y., and Long Island.
Who are the members of your family?
My husband, Howard, and I have been married for 58 happy years. We have two sons, Howard Jr. and Thomas, and two daughters, Diane and Dawn.
Tell us about your career.
When I was a young mother of two, and my daughter was about to be old enough to go to school, I couldn't bear to think of her being away from me.
The previous year, our local elementary school had started a prekindergarten program. So the year she could attend, I volunteered. That way I could be with her and make sure she was being taken care of. I spent two years helping in the prekindergarten class.
After my children were much older, I worked managing two large restaurants in Lloyds Department Stores, one in Middletown and one in Newburgh.
After we moved to Florida, I took a part-time job just because I was used to working. But when I wanted to take the summer off to visit my children up north, I had to quit. I never went back. Instead I threw myself into my crafts. I've always loved making crafts. For four years, I spent every weekend at a flea market selling them, but eventually it became too much. I wanted to spend more time at home.
High Point had a craft group when we moved here, but it was not very well attended. When I joined and showed some of my crafts, they asked me to take it over. The first thing I noticed was that members were a little reluctant to share their craft secrets, so I named my group Share-A-Craft. I wanted members to know that this group was a sharing group. Everyone teaches their crafts, and we have a lot of fun. Now, 16 years later, we average between 30 to 40 members each week.
What other activities are you involved in?
In February 2008, I heard from a grandmother about her grandsons, two soldiers (twins) who were serving, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. I approached the High Point management about the idea of sending packages, filled with our crafts and some goodies to the troops. They not only said it was a great idea, but they have absolutely encouraged me every step of the way. Everyone here at High Point supports our group.
Every Tuesday, I take 10 packages to the post office and mail them out. When the cost of postage became an issue, the High Point Social Club stepped up to help. To this day, every month, they give me $100 to use for postage. On Oct. 27, after mailing out 10 more boxes, we hit a grand total of 927.
From the time we started sending packages to the troops, Carol Walker, a member of our group, began making these little pillows. She just thought they all needed something comfortable that they could take with them wherever they went, and maybe use it to take a little nap. The troops went nuts when they got them. We heard in many letters that the female soldiers started having pillow fights over them. The pillows became known as our inspirational "poet" pillows.
In addition to the pillows, our packages usually contain things like gum, trail mix, disposable razors, deodorant, socks, ChapStick, cool bands, sunscreen, books, toys for the Iraqi and Afghanistan children, and other items. When the holidays get close, we start adding in handmade stockings.
The stockings usually are mailed in late October and all through November. That way we know they are received in time for the holidays. This year, more than 70 stockings have been made so far, and we're looking for folks to "adopt" one and fill it, then return it to our group so we can include it in a package. Of course, we also accept all donations, including additional help with postage.
Do you have any special hobbies?
I used to paint, but these days I don't find as much time to do anything other than crafts.
It's not a hobby, but at weekly meetings I enjoy reading the many thank-you letters we get back from grateful troops to our members, as well as keeping things light with some jokes. I enjoy telling jokes. After all, it's healthy to laugh.
What are your favorite things to do in Hernando County?
What do you think would make Hernando County a better place to live?
I wish folks would pay more attention while driving. We need better drivers on the roads.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.
Most people who know me know my motto is to be nicer to people than necessary. And I try to live my life that way. But most folks probably don't know that many years ago, my husband and I took in some foster children. I still keep in touch with one who now lives in Citrus County.
Hernando Neighbors is an occasional feature of the Hernando Times. Do you know someone who would make a good profile? We'd like to hear from you. Contact Jean Hayes, community news coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1438.