Volunteer Stories: A Stitch in Time
The mother/daughter duo of Sharlene and Amy Goldfischer facilitate the popular knitting club at 1515 Fairmount Avenue where our residents - many of whom are already painters, sculptors, and illustrators in their own right - hone their knitting skills with an eye toward crafting items for personal use or to sell at local craft shows.
Project HOME (PH): Tell us a little about yourselves.
Sharlene Goldfischer (SG): I am a special education teacher and consultant by training and background and homeschooled my own children for the past twelve years, along with providing support to other homeschooling families. Most of my teaching career was spent helping children and teens whose behavior and emotional challenges were interfering with their learning. I bring with me many, many years of working with children and adults to help them fully realize their true potential....doing whatever it takes to get that to happen.
Amy Goldfischer (AG): I am a homeschooled student in the Philadelphia area. I am interested in the arts, including handwork.
(PH): Why do you volunteer?
(SG): My son, Eric, who is now entering his senior year in college, volunteered at Project HOME during his high school years and became extremely passionate about working to end homelessness in this country (a passion and focus which has continued through his college years). My daughter, Amy, became interested from hearing about Eric's work and volunteered in the art program several years ago. One summer day, there just wasn't enough room in the art program for Amy due to summer interns, so, she was asked to help out with the knitting program. I came along to join her for her first visit with this group. Shortly after this visit, we received a call that the person who was currently leading the club was being relocated for her job and asking if Amy and I could take over running the knitting group. Of course we said "YES" without any hesitation! That was about two years ago now. It is so inspiring to me to help others learn a new skill and watch them feel so good about it...and then use it to express their creativity. This, as well as the deep and caring relationships that are formed from the work together are what motivate me.
(AG): I like connecting with the people at Project HOME, sharing a common interest and sharing my own skills with new knitters. I also enjoy learning from the experienced handworkers at Project HOME They inspire me.
(PH): Why are the issues of homelessness and poverty relevant/important to you?
(SG): All of the issues related to poverty and homelessness are important to me. I believe that each and every one of us brings special gifts to the world and if an individual is living in poverty and/or is homeless, it is very difficult for those gifts to be realized. I also feel that it is the responsibility of every citizen to be involved at some level in helping to end poverty and homelessness. Sister Mary and Joan have done such an amazing job of getting that message out there and of doing something about it. Bravo!
(AG): I believe that even the small things that someone does can make a difference. I want to continue to be involved, even in small ways, with organizations that are working to end homelessness because I think that ending homelessness is a goal that should be reached as soon as possible. These issues are important to me because it disturbs me that homelessness and poverty are still so common in Philadelphia and that most people do not realize that it is within their abilities to change this situation.
(PH): Anything else you'd like to add? Any fun stories or experiences?
(SG): My favorite stories and memories relate to watching new knitters "get it" and get over their fear of failure and of making mistakes, which absolutely everyone makes when learning to knit. It's been exciting to see the items crafted by the knitting club members be so well received at area craft shows and to experience the generosity of local crafts people who have donated yarn and supplies. I am also really enjoying watching my forty-two year old portable sewing machine get a workout!
(AG): People in the knitting club inspire me with their dedication, creativity and skills. It can be funny being the only person under age 40 in the group. I loved going to the First Friday event in Narberth with the group and selling our handwork and art.
(PH): Thanks so much for your time - and volunteer service!