Four Thousand Five Hundred Reasons to Smile: Volunteerism at Legacy Willow Bend

By Brian Lovelace | December 27, 2023

Editor’s Note: This article was written and submitted by senior-living executive Brian Lovelace. If you are a senior-living executive at a community with an idea for an article that you’d like to write and publish in Senior Living News you’re welcome to submit your written article or idea to our editor, Jim Nelson, at jnelson@seniorlivingnews.com. We welcome all ideas including, but not limited to, staffing recruitment and retention solutions, addressing the middle market, and successful, innovative programs or technology.

Legacy Willow BendIn my role at Legacy Willow Bend, I’ve had the opportunity to oversee a variety of volunteer projects, each unique and meaningful in its own way. One such project that stands out is our Knit and Crochet Club.

Back in 2010, our Knit and Crochet Club started small, making just 200 scarves and a hat. Fast forward to today, and it’s amazing to see how much we’ve grown. We’ve made over 42,000 items over the years. This year 4,519 items were donated to 15 organizations, touching lives throughout Dallas and Plano, Texas. The recognition from Mayor John B. Muns, who presented a “Certificate of Commendation” from the city of Plano, was an honor that went beyond acknowledging the physical warmth of the items; it recognized the emotional comfort they provide.

A big part of this success is thanks to Carol Sobol, one of our leading volunteers. Her love for knitting and helping the community has really driven the club forward. Carol’s energy has brought people together for a common goal of giving back.

What started with a handful of volunteers quickly grew to a dozen. Then, as more people heard about what we were doing, even friends and family from outside the community joined in. Now, we’ve got a strong group of 20 resident volunteers, another 20 from outside, and a team from Bank of America pitching in too.

Legacy Willow BendThe club has become a favorite among our residents, blending creativity with community service. It’s perfect for those with a rich history in volunteering, offering a less physically demanding, yet equally fulfilling activity. Every week, we all get together, catch up, and enjoy each other’s company.

I’ve embraced crocheting too. In fact, I crocheted my tie that I proudly wore at our annual distribution event. Regardless of whether we knit alone or in a group, there’s a strong sense of shared purpose among us. Our annual event is the pinnacle of our year, bringing together local organizations and city officials to honor our collective efforts.

The stories shared at this event — a child’s delight in receiving a handmade doll or a senior’s appreciation for a warm scarf — highlight the profound impact. It’s incredibly moving to hear a child’s surprise and joy, asking, “Someone made this for me?” Moments like these bring home significance, showing us the tangible difference that our handcrafted items make in people’s lives.

A key to the Knit and Crochet Club’s thriving success is the way we source our yarn. It’s a mix of community support and smart planning. We budget to buy yarn, making sure our club members always have what they need. We also organize yarn drives, where we get donations from both inside our community and from the wider area. Beyond gathering materials, these yarn drives are about building connections with local groups and people who want to help. And it’s working.

Legacy Willow BendIn 2024, we’re rekindling an old flame: a spring mah-jongg tournament. The proceeds from the tournament will help buy yarn and support The Legacy Senior Communities Foundation. It’ll help create a sustainable way to support our efforts while exemplifying how different parts of our community work together, making a bigger difference than they could alone. The Knit and Crochet Club offers a blueprint for other communities. Over the years, we discovered the interests and skills of residents help to create meaningful engagement and connections which enhance a program’s longevity and participation. Starting a similar program involves recognizing and nurturing the talents within your community.

The words of our Chaplain and Bereavement for Legacy at Home, Rabbi Holly Cohn, capture the essence of our efforts, and what Legacy Senior Communities is all about: “When we do acts of good for the wellbeing of the community, it is known as a Mitzvah. Your hands are blessing each stitch, which in turn radiates light to the person who will receive what you have so lovingly made.”

The Knit and Crochet Club embodies the power of community and the impact of shared passions. As we continue this tradition, we are reminded of the importance of bringing your passion to what you do. It’s this passion that knits together a legacy of warmth and care, one stitch at a time.

This article has been lightly edited.


Brian Lovelace
Guest Columnist

Brian Lovelace serves as the Volunteer Engagement Manager at Legacy Willow Bend, a role he has passionately held for the past three years. Brian’s primary focus is on developing and implementing a diverse range of volunteer activities, continuously seeking innovative ways to enrich the lives of residents through community service. His dedication to fostering a culture of volunteerism within the community has led to significant growth in both participation and impact. Prior to joining Legacy Willow Bend, Brian played a pivotal role as the J on Wheels Program Coordinator and Teen Services Manager at the Jewish Community Center in Dallas. It was here that Brian’s zeal for volunteering and community service truly flourished, laying the groundwork for his current endeavors in senior living. Brian holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Arkansas. The views expressed in the article are his own.

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