PV NEIGHBORS: Helping people knit their lives back together, one scarf at a time
Handmade Especially For You founder Leslye Borden (center in black stripes) poses with volunteers. (Photo: Mary Jo Hazard)
By Mary Jo Hazard For The News
Imagine you’re a victim of domestic violence.
The person you care about beats you so severely you fear for your life. You grab your children and flee to a shelter with nothing but the clothes on your back. The staff at the shelter is welcoming, but you’re heartbroken, scared, and alone.
Then a staff member smiles warmly and hands you a lovingly knitted scarf. “Handmade Especially For You,” reads the tag.
That’s also the name of the Rancho Palos Verdes-based nonprofit organization, staffed entirely by volunteers, that creates the scarves and provides them to shelters around the state.
Thanks to Handmade Especially For You founder Leslye Borden, more than 109,000 battered women have received such scarves. “We have many people who love to knit,” said Borden, “and about 25 percent of them are abuse survivors. They say ‘If only somebody had given me a scarf when I was going through it; I remember what it was like. I want to help.’”
Leslye’s devotion to community service dates all the way back to the 1960’s when she was in college at the University of Michigan. “I was a Kennedy Girl,” the dynamic brunette said proudly. “I rang doorbells and campaigned for JFK.” And she never forgot Kennedy’s defining quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
Leslye and Philip Borden, and their two daughters, moved to Rancho Palos Verdes in 1995. For 12 years, she ran a successful business in the area. When she retired in 2007, she wanted to help others. An avid knitter, she searched the Internet for related charities — and learned that one out of every four women is a victim of domestic violence. “I felt I had to step up to help,” she said.
Leslye knitted some scarves and brought them to Rainbow Services, a South Bay domestic violence agency. “Judy Hessick, the director of development, loved them,” Leslye said. “She called them ‘comfort scarves’ because wearing one felt like a big hug.”
Soon after, Leslye started Handmade Especially For You. She works four days a week organizing and coordinating the operation. It all started small. In their first year, 2008, Handmade provided scarves to 15 shelters. In April 2018, Handmade shipped 1,970 scarves. The organization serves 70 shelters around California.
“I bring our “magic ball kits” to nursing homes and church groups,” she said. “I hear older women saying, ‘I don’t know why I’m still here.’ And I say, ‘well, there’s an abused woman who needs a scarf from you,’ and they perk right up. I have volunteers in their 90s knitting scarves. It’s incredible what it does for them.”
Leslye's corrections to the news article:
FYI, I have 3 children: 2 sons and a daughter (none lived in PV) and 3 granddaughters. Judy Hessick was Director of Development at Rainbow Services, our first shelter. She’s the person who gave our scarves the name: comfort scarves. She loved them so much. She really gave Handmade its start. I went right from delivering scarves to her to Concepts in Yarn. I told June about Judy’s enthusiastic response and June offered to sporsor Handmade and give us a home in Concepts in Yarn.
Here you will find articles about Handmade Especially For You that have been published in various newspapers and online magazines. We are always grateful for publicity that will highlight our cause and help us to spread the word about the need for the work that we do!
The articles are also available here in Adobe .pdf format for downloading, printing and/or sharing with a friend. If you need to download the free Adobe Reader, you can get it here.
One of Handmade's volunteers, Ilene Gelbaum, was highlighted in the Torrance Tribune (10-19-17). Here's an excerpt from the article:
Ilene also told me she crochets scarves for Handmade Especially For You (a non-profit), which distributes the scarves to abused women's shelters all over California. "We are coming up on the 100,000th scarf in eight years," added Ilene.
The full article may be viewed below or at this link.
MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
World Changers supports the efforts of people and organizations who are making the world a better place. Their mission is to seek out and publicize the stories of dedicated people and organizations who are helping to create sustainable solutions to poverty.
They chose Handmade as this week's Charity (May 1 2017).
Click on the photo at left to hear their video in support of Handmade.
How to Help Survivors of Abuse through Leftover Yarn
Domestic violence is one of the greatest tragedies of society. It breaks my heart that where we should feel the safest — our home — is where too many women and children face fear and abuse.
Several years ago, Knitting for Charity featured Handmade Especially for You. This organization provides comfort scarves, hats, and baby items to domestic violence shelters all over California.
For many of the women afflicted by domestic violence, these are often the first gifts they’ve ever received.
Leslye Borden, the director of Handmade Especially for You, saw the leftover yarn scarf post from a few weeks ago and graciously offered two patterns to readers of Knitting for Charity. These patterns are terrific for using leftover yarn!
Get Inspired by Leftover Yarn
When was the last time you found a bit of leftover yarn inspiring?
I don’t give a lot of thought to leftover yarn. In fact, I usually consider leftover yarn to be more of a bother than anything else. Something about them — their odd shapes, their non-complementary colors, their varying sizes — makes my slightly OCD tendencies twitch.
And that’s a shame!
Remember that scarf pattern post I alluded to earlier? Not only is this scarf beautiful, but it will also keep refugees warm in the midst of their desperate situation.
I find that inspiring… and I’ll bet you do, too!
Perhaps it’s time to stop thinking of leftover yarn as a nuisance and start letting it inspire us. Read on for Leslye’s patterns below and start getting inspired.
Handmade was a recipient of the UPS "Wishes Delivered" program; November 2015.
Beth Engelman, columnist for the Chicago Tribune, contacted Leslye Borden at the end of October. Beth had been poking around the internet looking for charity crafts and she found Handmade.
On Nov. 2, inquiries started coming in from Illinois. It turns out the article was published in 30 newspapers surrounding Chicago. Leslye didn’t see the article until a few days ago and noticed two errors:
Beth wrote that Handmade distributes our scarves nationwide - the fact is we donate only in California, BUT we have volunteers from almost every state in the US send us scarves.
Beth also wrote that Handmade supplies our magic balls to both knitters and crocheters - the fact is we supply magic balls only to knitters. We accept and love crocheted scarves but we do not supply yarn to volunteers who want to make them.
Below is the article.
The photo of the box of scarves tied with curling ribbon conveyed the excitement I think the women at the shelters feel when our box of scarves arrive.
Knit a Comfort Scarf
When Leslye Borden retired in 2007, her love of knitting quickly morphed into a non-profit organization that provides comfort and support to victims of abuse.
"After I retired, I started knitting sweaters for my granddaughters," Borden said. "I loved making the sweaters so much that I decided to knit matching hats, mittens, leggings...you name it, I made it."
Soon, her granddaughters were at capacity, and Borden knew she needed to find new recipients for her knit creations — ones that truly needed them. She founded a nonprofit called Handmade Especially for You that distributes "comfort scarves" to women's shelters throughout the country.
"The scarves are given to the women when they first arrive at a shelter," Borden said. "We want to honor their bravery and willingness to leave an abusive situation."
To make a comfort scarf, visit handmadeespecially.org and click on the volunteer tab. For a small donation, Borden will send you a "magic ball kit," which includes everything you need to knit or crochet your own comfort scarf, with three different kinds of yarn, knitting needles and patterns. If you want to use your own yarn and needles, simply download one of the organization's free downloadable patterns and start knitting. Then, pop your handmade item in the mail and Borden will ensure it gets delivered to a shelter.
South Bay nonprofit knits scarves for victims of violence
When Leslye Borden’s three granddaughters were small children, she would knit wardrobes for them.
But one day while visiting, she discovered a box full of her woven clothes.
“My heart was broken at what I saw, but it was my own fault,” Borden said. “It was too much for little girls to handle, so I thought to myself, ‘I better find someone who needs what I want to make.’ ”Before long, Borden had founded Handmade Especially for You, a nonprofit knitting organization devoted to victims of domestic violence, which since 2009 has delivered more than 80,000 scarves to all the shelters for abused women in Southern California — from San Diego to San Luis Obispo. And, recently, the United Parcel Service gave Borden a shipping grant that will allow her nonprofit to deliver scarves to five shelters in Northern California.
Launching her own nonprofit didn’t happen right away. Borden, a Rancho Palos Verdes resident, searched the Internet for knitting charities and found a plethora.
“During my research, I learned that women who are victims of domestic violence are the most under-represented and underserved demographic in our country,” Borden said.
To find out where a shelter was located, she went to her local fire department to ask around but couldn’t find any answers. Finally, she found Rainbow Services in San Pedro, a shelter offering assistance and support to women and families of domestic abuse.
“In October of 2008, I had a wonderful experience with a lady named Judy, who loved the scarves,” Borden said. “She gave them the name of ‘comfort scarves’ because wearing them felt like a hug.”Borden then shared her experience with June Grossberg, the owner of Concepts in Yarn & Needlepoint, and soon after Borden founded Handmade Especially for You.
Shannon Minor remembers when she received a scarf.
“This gesture showed us that there were people outside of this room that knew what we were going through, and they cared so much that they wanted to make something special for us,” Minor said. “It was validating and reassuring to hold the scarf and see the little card attached telling us that we mattered.”
Susan Rosenberg, the public relations director for UPS, said Borden’s story caught the attention of UPS last spring during the company’s United Problem Solvers’ campaign.
“She is a catalyst to bring people together — other senior knitters who might use their talents with purpose to provide personal handcrafted items and the deserving women who had made a first difficult step, and had little or no personal possessions,” Rosenberg said. “The UPS Wishes Delivered program could solve her distribution needs, engage other knitters and connect with other shelters.”
Borden laments that even though the knitted scarves help those in need, they won’t solve the larger problem of violence against women and children.
“Here we are cheering about how many scarves we gave away, but really we should be crying when we think that this need is prevalent and growing in our society.”
UPS donates $10,000 for Handmade's shipping costs!
Handmade is a recipient of the UPS "Wishes Delivered" program; November 2015.
Play the video below.
KCET and Union Bank honor outstanding women who have made significant contributions to improve our community. For Women's History Month 2014, they chose Leslye Borden as one of their two honorees. Here's a link to their website http://www.kcet.org/socal/local_heroes/whm/
Local Hero: Leslye Borden
In 2008, Leslye Borden made a decision that would give hundreds of abused women something to hold on to. Having sold her stock photo business the year before, without any idea of what life was going to hold for her next, she decided to combine her love of knitting with her desire to give back to the community and launched Handmade Especially for You, an organization that provides handmade “comfort” scarves as gifts to women who have suffered abuse.
Watch the movie of Leslye and some of the Handmade volunteers that aired on KCET during Women's History Month 2014. Below is the Video clip from the Local Heroes Awards courtesy of KCETLink.
Rancho Palos Verdes resident Leslye Borden was selected as a Local Hero for 2014 by KCET, in recognition of her support for victims of domestic violence. Borden started Handmade Especially for You to create and send handmade scarves to women’s shelters. Since its beginnings in 2008, the organization has sent 57,000 scarves to women throughout Southern California.
The scarves are bright and cheerful, soft and warm against the skin. They’re a comfort to thousands of women who have fled domestic abuse and are beginning to rebuild their lives.
Handmade Especially for You, founded by Rancho Palos Verdes resident Leslye Borden in October 2008, has sent more than 57,000 scarves to women in shelters throughout Southern California. Each woman who receives one can gather strength from it, knowing that every inch of yarn has passed through the hands of a compassionate woman who cares about her.
“When we deliver our scarves to our shelters, every one has a gift tag signed by the person who made it,” Borden said. “Frequently this is the first personal gift the woman has ever received. Abused women are very isolated and can have very low self-esteem. That’s why our scarves have such an impact.”
In recognition of her kindness and support of victims of domestic abuse, KCET chose Borden as a 2014 Local Hero. KCET sent a crew to film Handmade volunteers in February. The video will be aired in March, to celebrate Women’s History Month, and will be shown at the end of the year in recognition of all 2014 Local Heroes.
Borden started Handmade after she sold her stock photo business in 2007. In an passionate frenzy of knitting, she made sweaters, berets, skirts, leg warmers, mittens and muffs for her granddaughters and soon realized they couldn’t use all of her gifts.
So Borden looked for charities that wanted knitted items. After making hats for premature babies and sock boots for children in Outer Mongolia, she found an organization that sought knitted scarves for rape survivors in Chicago. Talking with staff at that organization inspired her to start Handmade.
“I thought of abused women, the most underrepresented group in our society,” she said. “They have no political voice. I felt committed to helping the problem and wanted to make the women feel better. That feeling of women supporting women is one of the common threads of volunteers in our group.”
Another common thread, she added, is that at least a quarter are abuse survivors themselves.
“They all say, ‘I wish someone had given me a scarf when I was going through this,’” she said.
Because of safety issues, it was difficult for Borden to find the shelters at first. But today, 60 Southern California shelters receive scarves from Handmade, including Rainbow Services, Richstone Family Center and 1736 Family Crisis Center.
And more and more people are helping Handmade, offering their money, their yarn and their hands. June Grossberg, owner of Concepts in Yarn in Torrance, immediately saw the significance of Handmade and offered to host the group in her shop. She also encouraged her yarn suppliers to donate to Handmade.
Every Wednesday evening, a core group of about 20 people, many of them PV residents, gather at Concepts in Yarn to drop off the scarves they’ve knitted or crocheted, and to create yarn kits, wrap scarves and ship them to shelters. Handmade has 15 affiliates, located as close as Long Beach and as far away as Cape Town, South Africa.
In the beginning, Borden was spending $500 or more for yarn, but now donated yarn fills every room of her house. Handmade is looking for a low-rent location where volunteers can set up a workshop and store yarn and scarves. Borden hopes more people will get involved, especially after seeing the KCET video.
“We’re very excited about this honor,” she said. “When we first started donating scarves to Rainbow Services, Judy Hessick [former development director at Rainbow] greeted them with enthusiasm and named them ‘comfort scarves.’ She said, ‘They’re like a hug around the neck, which is just what our women need.’ That was such a positive reception that I knew there was something more to these scarves than just knitting.”
Making a Difference, 6 Ways to Give Back Without Leaving Your Couch
Knit or Crochet a Scarf for a Woman in Need
Handmade Especially for You is a nonprofit organization that distributes "comfort" scarves to women who have recently left abusive situations. In 2012, nearly 12,000 knit and/or crocheted scarves were delivered to 60 women's shelters throughout southern and central California. For more information about getting involved, visit handmadeespecially.org.
Leslye Borden, Handmade Especially for You
When Leslye Borden retired, she turned her love for knitting into a global effort to bring comfort and hope to abused women. Leslye and Handmade Especially for You engage volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, proving that everyone can knit – and everyone can help.
After Leslye Borden decided to sell her business in 2007, she spent a lot of her free time on her favorite hobby: knitting. She made many beautiful garments for her granddaughters, until one day she found some of those very items in her daughter's giveaway box .
She was shocked. But when she really thought about it, she realized she was making too many things for girls who already had plenty. She decided to find people who really needed what she was making. That determination led her to createHandmade Especially for You.
For a while, Leslye just used her own time and skills to make garments for those in need. She knit socks for an organization called Warm Woolies, which provides knit and crocheted garments for children in extreme poverty. She knit some preemie hats forStitches from the Heart. But even creating these much needed items didn't satisfy her. She wanted to find more recipients who would treasure what she made.
Leslye searched and searched, and finally discovered that there were no groups out there making items for abused women. She made 30 beautiful knit scarves, foundRainbow Servicesin San Pedro in her area, and donated all of the scarves.
The director of the shelter was thrilled. She said each scarf was "like a hug for the recipient." She explained to Leslye that the women she served had never before received a personal gift, much less a handmade personal gift. The women were amazed that someone they didn't know would make something so beautiful for them.
Leslye felt like she had finally found her calling. She took her idea to a local yarn shop and asked the owner if she would sponsor her. The owner was more than willing, so they put up a sign inviting knitters to join them every Wednesday evening to make comfort scarves.
And people did. The yarn shop supported Leslye even further by asking her yarn suppliers to donate yarn for the project. And they did.
Leslye organized the donated yarn into kits, which her volunteers call "magic balls" because they become such beautiful scarves. She measured everything, coordinated all the colors, and then she started publicizing her project online.
The demand for the kits grew. Leslye also took them to local retirement homes, church groups and senior centers. Everywhere she went, people wanted to use the kits to make scarves for women in shelters. "I couldn't make kits fast enough," says Leslye, "but I had lots of scarves!"
Leslye started recruiting volunteers to make kits, wrap scarves and help ship them to the shelters. "Our volunteers are great," Leslye says. "They are so dedicated to our cause. They believe in it as much as I do." Some make scarves to honor family members. Some have been victims of abuse themselves and know what a comfort scarf would have meant to them on their road to a happy life. "For many of our volunteers," she goes on, "making the scarves is as meaningful to them as receiving the scarves is to the abused women who get them."
Many people find Handmade Especially for You via VolunteerMatch. They have volunteers from all over the U.S., a few from Canada, England, Scotland, and Germany, and Leslye attributes this to how many people VolunteerMatch reaches. "Being a member has definitely improved Handmade's ability to deliver so many comfort scarves to so many shelters for abused women," she says.
In 2008 Handmade made and donated 300 comfort scarves to 3 shelters for abused women. In 2009, their core group grew and they were able to make and distribute 6,500 scarves for 22 shelters. 2010 was a banner year. They received very generous yarn donations, established affiliates throughout the country and donated 10,000 scarves to 30 shelters in Southern Calif. They plan to reach more than 43 shelters with a total of 15,000 scarves by the end of 2011.
Leslye is uplifted every day by her work with Handmade. She always saw herself has a leader, someone who inspired others, but she thought that skill was confined to her business. "Not I see that it is my essence," she says. "I am idealistic and I can convert the ideals I believe in into positive action, and organize others to do the same."
When her family came for Thanksgiving, her granddaughters went through the boxes of scarves in her front hall sent from all over the world. They opened them, read every letter, and sat down afterwards to crochet bracelets for the ladies.
And the effect isn't just in Leslye's own family. They supply Craig County Jail with kits for their female inmates. The arts and crafts teacher says making these scarves helps her girls see that there are women worse off than they are.
What's on the horizon for Handmade? "I am just about at the limit of what I personally can do," Leslye admits. She spends all her time, between eating, sleeping and doing laundry, working for the organization. "At night I knit." So if Handmade is going to grow, they'll need more volunteers, a bigger workspace for the kit makers, and more money to ship the kits.
For Leslye, though, these are mere bumps in the road as Handmade becomes something even she couldn't have imagined when she first started knitting those scarves. "I could never have anticipated such joy in retirement," she says. "I thought working in my business was the greatest joy of my life. Now I think contributing to overcoming domestic violence, working with teens, working with seniors, etc. is even more satisfying."
Leslye often works with high schools to help their students fulfill public service requirements for graduation. Once she taught knitting to a group of 65 teens, boys and girls, from YouTube videos. The kids went home and talked about this with their moms or grandmas. They had a new connection to them.
"I could go on and on about Handmade's fabulous volunteers and the meaning of participating in Handmade for all who do so," Leslye says. "But I have to get back to making kits for crocheters."
About Handmade Especially for You
Handmade Especially for You knits/crochets comfort scarves and donates them to abused women who have sought safety from their abusive environment. Their scarves tell these women that they care about them, they think they are valuable, and they think they have a happy future ahead.
It seems the news these days is filled with reports of domestic abuse; yet often, the women who are victims of this type of abuse are overlooked by charitable aid. Handmade Especially For You hopes to change this situation by providing beautiful warm scarves for women's shelters.
According to its mission statement, Handmade Especially For You wants every woman who enters a shelter to receive a comfort scarf because she was brave enough to leave her abusive situation. The scarves are freely given to abused women to lift their self-esteem and hopefully make an impact on their lives.
Based out of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Handmade Especially For You, a nonprofit charity, was formed just three short years ago in 2008 and now serves 30 womens' shelters in the state of California. In the month of September alone they distributed 1,000 comfort scarves lovingly made by gracious volunteers, which was double what they had donated in 2010. As of the end of September, Handmade Especially For You had sent out 9,000 scarves, but still needs more volunteers to reach their goal of 15,000 for the year.
Hand-crocheted and -knitted scarves are being received from around the globe, and many corporate sponsors and shop owners donated yarn; unfortunately, many women could still benefit from a lovingly crafted comfort scarf. If you are interested in helping this wonderful group meet its goal, please visit Handmade Especially For Youfor more information.
Narbonne High students knit scarves for homeless women
By Melissa Pamer Staff Writer
Posted: 08/05/2010 06:32:48 PM PDT
Updated: 08/05/2010 06:52:30 PM PDT
Students in Lyn Almustafa's summer health class at Narbonne High knit scarves to give to a battered women's shelter. (Scott Varley / Staff Photographer)
Along with a couple dozen students in his summer health class at Narbonne High School, Omar is learning to knit. The multicolored scarves they produce - from donated knitting needles and yarn - will be donated to homeless women who are victims of domestic violence.
It's a project started last year by students at the Human Services Academy, one of the small learning communities on the Harbor City campus.
Handmade Especially For You, a nonprofit founded by Rancho Palos Verdes resident Leslye Borden, is guiding the students. The group has donated nearly 5,000 scarves to women in Los Angeles County shelters this year.
Volunteer Leslye Borden, left, has taught the Narbonne High students, including Amy Campos, how to knit. (Scott Varley / Staff Photographer)
Teacher Lyn Almustafa has been surprised and pleased by the students' enthusiasm. On Thursday, they started knitting before she had even called class to order. "It's the passion of helping someone and learning a skill for themselves," Almustafa said.
Charity Feature - Handmade Especially for You By: Newsletter Editor
After selling her stock photo agency in 2007, Leslye Borden began knitting special projects for her family. When they started giving away her handmade goods, she decided to craft for charity. After working with various charity organizations, Borden founded the 501(c)(3) organization Handmade Especially for You in 2008. The goal of the organization is to support women in shelters by providing them with unique handmade comfort scarves. The majority of women who enter domestic violence shelters have only the clothes that they are wearing. It is Borden's dream that every one of these will one day receive a scarf as a sign of support and love.
In 2009, Handmade Especially for You donated over 6,500 scarves to women's shelters in California. This year, they hope to increase this number to over 10,000. So far, scarves have only been distributed in California, but with new chapters cropping up across the United States, the charity is growing a national presence.
Handmade Especially for You never sends two identical scarves to the same shelter, so volunteers are encouraged to make each scarf as unique as its recipient. Knit or crochet scarves should be at least 60 inches long and no more than 5 inches wide. Open stitch patterns are preferred for distribution in warm climates. Handmade Especially for You's most popular scarves are made with exciting shades of Fun Fur. We recommend trying patterns like our knitted Plush Scarf or crocheted Fabulous Fling Scarf.
Completed scarves, extra yarn, and monetary donations may be sent to the following address:
Handmade Especially for You c/o Leslye Borden 30065 Grandpoint Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Leslye Borden has taken her passion for knitting and crocheting beyond her own personal use by creating an organization that brings a bit of joy to abused women. Handmade Especially for You distributes special scarves to women and children in shelters. Presently, there is a request to the organization for 1,000 scarves for Thanksgiving baskets and another 2,000 for Christmas baskets. A handmade gift can be a small step toward building self-esteem that is so necessary during the healing process for women who have been abused.
Leslye's hints for creating scarves are:
Use soft yarn (for comfort).
Pick happy colors.
Make them four to five inches wide.
Make them at least 60 inches long.
Use open-weave stitch if possible (so they can be used in warm weather climates).
Add some novelty yarn or ribbon to make them special.
The intention of making these scarves is to provide a gift of comfort to someone who may have never received a gift before and to show that someone cares.
You can read more about Leslye Borden and the story of Handmade Especially for You online at HandMadeEspecially.org. Her Web site also gives information about starting a local chapter. If you would like to mail scarves directly to her, please send to:
Leslye Borden Handmade Especially for You 30065 Grandpoint Lane Rancho Palos Verdes, CA90275
Scarves That Warm The Heart
By Rebecca Villaneda PENNINSULA NEWS Monday, August 17, 2009
Leslye Borden started Handmade With Love Especially For You, a project that donates hand- knitted scarves to women in shelters, including Rainbow Services in San Pedro. To date, Borden and her fellow knitters have donated almost 2,000 scarves.
Leslye Borden took her knitting hobby to another level.
After she saw her handmade pieces in her daughter’s “give-away bin” she knew she needed new recipients for her colorful gifts.
In came June Grossberg, owner of Torrance’s Concepts in Yarn.
Together the two came up with the idea to donate Borden’s creative works women’s shelters in the South Bay and Orange County, and called the project Handmade with Love Especially for You.
The first to receive the warm wraparounds was Rainbow Services in San Pedro, and others soon followed, bringing her total donated scarves to 1,900 since beginning last October.
“You know how a knit scarf or a knit shawl stretches — when a woman puts it on, you almost get a hug from it,” said Judy Hessick, director of development at Rainbow Services, adding that these gifts have done wonders for the women’s self-esteem.
“I originated the idea thinking that women would use them like security blankets, like they would feel good and they would feel pretty and that they would love them, and it would just be a gift to make them feel special,” said Borden, a Rancho Palos Verdes resident. “The knitting of the scarf is a real labor of love, and my husband designed these cute little tags that we attach to each one.”
Grateful for their scarves, the women addressed each thank you note specifically to the person who made their scarf — a gesture that greatly delighted the knitters, Borden said.
With kind donations from different yarn companies, Borden is sure she will fill the requests for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but she adds she could use fellow knitters and crocheters to help fill that quota.
Right now Borden and others meet Wednesday evenings at Concepts in Yarn, but she also knits in other groups, like senior centers, as well as the Rolling Hills Community Church, where others volunteer their time.
“I think they like the camaraderie of one another as much as they like what it is they are doing, and they like sharing their ideas, and Leslye, she is just one incredible lady,” Grossberg said. “When you set out to do something with her, it doesn’t take days — it takes minutes because she is on top of it immediately. I know for Leslye it’s been a real emotional experience going to the centers and meeting some of the women and children who have received the gifts.”
The women who turn to these shelters are getting themselves and their children out of dangerous and bad situations.
At Rainbow Services alone, the shelter helps about 250 families monthly, said Hessick.
“We have 26 beds at our emergency shelter and clients [stay] there for up to two months; some stay a shorter time,” she said. “We have nine apartments for our transitional shelter clients; they stay with us a year. What’s staggering is on an average each client has probably two, two and a half children. So there’s a tremendous amount of work we do with the children, too.”
The scarves may not seem like much to an outsider, but to these women who are escaping abuse, it’s a gift and a symbol that someone cares, Hessick added.
“Several [women] thought they were so beautiful, but the one that was most touching was one who said she couldn’t believe someone who didn’t know her would make her such a beautiful scarf.”
Said Grossberg, “We don’t know what their history is, we don’t know what’s gone on before, nor do I think we need to know. We know that they have wonderful courage to finally get themselves out of the situations that they are in.
“It’s a definite step in the right direction and I think we as women need to support women who are not as fortunate as we are. And I think [Leslye] senses that a great deal,” she added.
Borden has yet to obtain the 501(c)3 title, but hopes to get some help with that aspect of her giving project in the near future.
But for now, Borden has many people involved in her knitting circle contributing to Handmade with Love Especially for You. She has Easter Seals of Torrance wind balls of yarn for her and a mentally disabled Norwalk man who donates a few scarves here and there.
“I think it’s so wonderful to have so many different groups included,” Borden said. “It’s a feel-good thing all over the place.”