I’m writing for them today.

I am an introvert by nature, but do my best to play the extrovert once a month at a local women’s shelter called Mary’s Shelter.  It’s a small commitment.  I teach knitting on this one night a month for a little over an hour.  I’ve been teaching for about three years now.

Each time I arrive at the shelter is different.  There will usually be new faces:  new mamas, children, and babies.  One thing always remains the same:  I will spend a little over an hour with a room full of women from all walks of life.  I will feel inadequate.  I will worry that I won’t have the right words, and I will be downright intimidated at times.  But, after a few moments I will relax and recall that all I have to do is listen, and teach.  Listen and Teach.  When a young mama tells me that she’s not any good at this sort of thing I’ll tell her that everyone feels that way at first, it’s normal.   When a woman is hostile I will remind myself that she is hurting, and this is not about me.  When a woman relaxes and begins to tell me her story, of how she essentially came to believe that she isn’t worthy of love and respect, I will listen.  Her words will often come back to me as I drive home sobbing.  I rarely know the right thing to say in return, but I will teach her how to hold her yarn and how to knit a stitch, and my small actions will be enough to say, “You are worthy of my time.  You are worthy of love.”  Sometimes I will spend most of the hour holding babies, so that mamas can knit.  During each woman’s time in the shelter, she will encounter dozens of other people who will send her that same message of love in various ways both big and small.  She will be expected to do her part to work towards a better life, but she will be cared for and she and her children will be kept safe.  Mary’s Shelter is unique in that it is a crisis pregnancy shelter that welcomes women and their children and they are not given a fixed amount of time that they are allowed to stay.  While there are a few very dedicated women who run the shelter including my friend Kathleen who founded it, and my friend Eve who manages it, there are many of us who each do a small part (my friend Lori photographs the babies!) and these small acts come together to change lives.  While many of the residents are from Virginia, Mary’s Shelter has taken in women from all over the east coast.

Mary’s Shelter has become an important part of my life.  The women I’ve met over the years have touched my heart in an immeasurable way.  I don’t have the words to express that.  I’ve met moms both young and old, single, married, divorced, escaping from abusive relationships, and those who can’t seem to break the cycle of looking for love in all the wrong places.  I’ve sat and knit with every woman in the video above, and no, I can’t watch it without crying.  Today, I’m writing for them.

So here’s the big deal:  An anonymous donor has pledged up to 25, 000 dollars in matching gifts for all new monthly pledges.  Pledging monthly means donating a set amount of money each month through an automatic recurring donation.  I am sure most of you are familiar with that concept.  I like it, because it allows my family to give a little each month, adding up to a larger gift over the course of a year than we could afford to give at one time.  The matching gift means that a five dollar monthly pledge right now becomes ten dollars, a ten dollar pledge becomes 20 and so on, throughout 2013.  Regular monthly donations are what keep the shelter going.  Right now Mary’s Shelter has four homes, and is hoping to open a fifth with a daycare center this year.

If you are interested in signing up to be a monthly donor, you can do so HERE.  Every little bit that each of us does helps, whether it’s donating to Mary’s Shelter, or looking into what you might be able to do to support women in crisis in your own community.  If we each give just a little, we can do something big.   We can change the world, and we are, one mama at a time.


  1. 1st comment…
    Just want to thank you to share your life’s moments.
    I read you quite often now and discover you and your family through your photograph and words.
    I choose this post because it touch me so much.
    Thank you for inspiring me.
    I’ll comment more often!
    (sorry for spelling or syntax errors…)

  2. Thank you so much for sharing. What a great place they run-I cried through the entire video, I can’t imagine going to a shelter and being told you only have __ amount of days to be there. That is so wonderful they welcome them for as long as they need it. This post also reminded me to give more-even if I don’t have much money to give, you can tell your time given to these ladies makes a huge impact.

  3. i love this. i didn’t know you did this ginny, i volunteer to teach also at the local homeless shelter. i feel the same as you, maybe someday i’ll bring my camera, i’d love to share also. big hugs to you.

  4. Thanks for sharing such a lovely idea. We support a local shelter here, but I never considered teaching the wonderful skill of knitting with those young mothers. How did you get started? Did someone ask for a lesson or did you simple show up and offer?

  5. amazing….. you are such a gem Ginny 🙂

  6. I have just come across your blog this week and have been so inspired by your story and your beautiful family! You are using your gift in a mighty way and being a blessing to those around you. Thank you for sharing all you do with us. You have blessed me this weeek!

  7. I thank God for you and your gentle way of touching these women’s lives. And mine too! You’re doing it right.

  8. What a beautiful group of people…the women and children at Mary’s Shelter and the ones who started it all! And you, too, for offering your time and talent! Your post today took my focus from all the things stressing me out in my life to thinking about what I can do for others, instead. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  9. I am teaching beginner crochet this year and your “listen and teach” lit up at me like a 50 foot neon sign. I am a chatterbox especially when I am a bit nervous. I know I will be very good at this and I am grateful for the opportunity. I feel this mantra “listen and teach” will be the centering, calming words I need. I believe God speaks through people if we are open……:)

  10. This week, in honor of everything that is going on, I opened up (really, just finished the story) of what I went through while pregnant with my son and the “Choice” I actually considered. I had support and got through it and the whole experience opened my eyes to so much Truth.

    Every woman deserves support so that she doesn’t have to choose.

    Thank you for supporting such a great organization.

  11. Mary Lou Shookhoff says:

    You made me think of a young pregnant patient (I was an OB nurse until I was too disabled to work anymore) who came to us from St. Ann’s with pregnancy induced hypertension. Keeping her in bed was unbelievably difficult. Another girl from St. Ann’s was there and she was upset with that other girl. Now my young friend was acting out her anger at the world & had a reputation for getting into fights. So much so that she was in danger of being asked to leave St. Ann’s (and these nuns rarely did that). So I decided to teach her how to crochet to give her something to make for her baby and to keep her in bed resting so her BP would go down. While we were crocheting together, she confided to me that she had not started the latest fight and the way she told me that combined with her body language made me believe her. So I asked her, “Why do you think that you were the one blamed with starting the fight?” She only paused to think for a minute and replied “Because I start a lot of fights?” I told her that was most lily correct and why and asked her to think about how she wanted the rest of her life to go forward. “Do you want to keep being the first person who is suspected of starting fights and behaving badly or do you want to outgrow that behavior and be a smart strong woman who can do anything she wants to do?” She and I had a really great talk that grew out of teaching her how to crochet. She had no mother or anyone else who cared enough or maybe who cared but did not know how to help her or who maybe was still acting like a wild teenager herself. I often wonder about her and hope that this moment together gave her something to grow on. What a privilege it is to be a nurse! I often thank God for those 30 years in which I was allowed to help so many people in their time of need, especially the 14 years I spent assisting women give birth to their children. One young mother said to me after the birth of her last child, “You helped me have my whole family!” And indeed I had

  12. I don’t comment often, but wanted to say thank you so much for posting about this, Ginny. This really encouraged me today; one of my children came to me because his birth mother was given the support she needed so she wouldn’t have to abort him (when she was in a very tough place), so this sort of ministry is very near and dear to my heart . . .
    Thanks for sharing!

  13. This is so inspirational Ginny – thank you for sharing it!

  14. That’s a beautiful gift of your time and talent; thank-you for sharing.

  15. Your are truly a remarkable women and a inspiration!. thank you.

  16. What a wonderful place for these women and their children and may you be blessed for giving of your heart to them. We have a similar place here in Spokane called Life Services that has a shelter in a huge remodeled Victorian home for moms and their babies. Husband and I send support to them every month on an automatic deduction for the very same reason you state. A little every month adds up to a much bigger number yearly and we don’t notice it nearly as much.

    Many blessings to you and for the women of Mary’s Place. What a wonderful service you have done for them today with your blog


  17. I teach in a high poverty area..and I have had students who are homeless…and moms who are trying to raise their children in some of the most abysmal circumstances….so that is a beautiful thing you have done…Not sure I can do a monthly donation, but I will look into it…

  18. Beautiful! Thanks so much for posting! 🙂

  19. Beautiful!! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  20. Cried at work on my lunchbreak. Stupid menopause! Beautiful post.

  21. You truly are a beautiful spirit, my dear Ginny. Thank you for sharing this, and inspiring me to do more in my community. xo

  22. Ginny, You are simply the dream neighbour most women wish lived next door. At least for me. I think you are a wonderful soul. Shining so bright.
    xo Jules

  23. What an inspiration you are. I hope to one day use my love of knitting to spread love like you do.

  24. OK so now I am crying and I haven’t even seen the video yet. You got me with the last line, We can change the world, One mama at a time. We really can and can I say I am proud of you for taking time from your own family to improve someone elses.

  25. I think this is great! I, too, volunteer at a maternity home. I don’t teach knitting classes, though, even though the girls all know that I knit. I make them lots of baby things! It’s wonderful that you make the time for these women. That’s what they see and appreciate.

  26. This made me cry.
    How blessed are we as women no matter which side that we happen to be on.
    The giving or the receiving?
    Or, is it one and the same….
    Thank you for sharing.
    I must look into this in my community.

  27. God bless you all!

  28. This is a beautiful way to give. Thanks for sharing this.

  29. This was so well written. Mary’s Shelter is such a blessing and the women who take their time to run it are nothing short of amazing.

  30. What a beautiful post and a wonderful thing you’re doing. I just love all those babies! My mother was a director of a battered women’s shelter in Ga. My sister went through that same shelter several years ago. They really do help women and children and change their lives for the better. Most of them anyway. Thank you for bringing this most important topic up. And thank you for what you do there.

  31. I am going to contact our local women’s shelter (Maggie’s Place) and see if they would like someone to come and teach the women knitting too. Thank you, Ginny.

  32. Made me cry, too

  33. Thank you 🙂

  34. What a wonderful way to give back to the community. And you have no idea how you are touching their lives, as much as they are touching yours. Thank you for posting this.

  35. This is simply awesome.

  36. it is so true – you are one of a kind Ginny.
    I admire you.

  37. What I wouldn’t give to provide a free montesssori school for these children and parents.

  38. You really are a special soul Ginny and I love you!
    Thanks for this post, for all Mama’s everywhere.

I love to hear from you!