Smiles one stitch at a time thanks to the men at the Kyle Correctional Center

“I feel like this gives me a purpose and will help to keep me out of trouble in the future.”

So says Johnny Green about his involvement in Stitch-A-Smile, a volunteer crocheting program at MTC’s Kyle Correctional Center in Kyle, Texas.

Mr. Green is quoted in the Seguin Gazette, a local newspaper which recently published an article on the Stitch-A-Smile program.  Several men are involved and enjoy crocheting blankets and toys, particularly stuffed animals. These items are provided to the local police department to give to children they encounter in their daily calls. Donations are also used to benefit other community agencies.  In the same article in the Gazette, Warden Deanna Branham speaks to the benefits the inmates receive by participating in this program.

“Teaching them to crochet and make these stuffed animals affords the offenders an opportunity to learn a new skill, while allowing them to center and quiet their thoughts so they contemplate their goals and objectives.  Simultaneously, they learn the good feeling of giving back to society as well.”

Program participant Edward Harwood had this to say to the paper:  “I mostly like making little blankets for children and the elderly, I find that crocheting is relaxing and this is something positive to do to keep me out of trouble.”

A local chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star recently donated yarn to Kyle’s Stitch-A-Smile program, enabling the inmates to continue their service.  Members of the chapter recently visited the facility and saw the impact of their donation in person.

“This is a wonderful program,” Chapter Secretary Ethel Dammann was quoted in the Gazette article.  “We’re honored to support these men.”  Chapter member Allen Swicegood added, “The work these men are doing is incredible.”

The Kyle facility recently donated Stitch-A-Smile items to a local church mission service trip to Nicaragua.  Mission team member Donna Williamson spoke of how each of the 25 missionaries were touched by the donated items, “who were all amazed at such an endeavor and expressed their gratefulness.”

Ms. Williamson went on to describe the mission team working several days building homes, feeding local residents, and doing crafts. During that service, team members became well acquainted with several children. Each missionary chose a toy donated by Kyle to give to a child of their choice.  Twelve-year-old Ava Williamson said of the experience,

“I picked out my favorite animal, a red stitched teddy bear for that [3-year-old] girl, and she squeezed it tight and gave me a big hug.”

None of these men involved in the Stitch-A-Smile program ever dreamed they’d take up crocheting, yet they all enjoy the volunteer work.

In the Gazette article, participant Oscar Navarro expressed his gratitude to Warden Branham, “for giving [me] this opportunity to give back to society.”  Warden Branham summed up, “this program has just as much of an impact on the inmates as it does the community.”