Martha Jefferson Healthwise: Caring Embrace

November 21, 2012

Stitch after stitch Josephine Bettinger knits with the Caring Embrace group at Martha Jefferson Hospital.

"It makes me feel good," says Bettinger. "God has given me the strength and the health and I'm just trying to give back to someone else."

The group makes shawls for patients in need and often family members that could use a little comforting after a tough diagnosis or death of a loved one.

"I think it is just is a tangible reminder of comfort. Or that there are other people, the knitters, in our group who are caring for someone or their family. That really makes a difference, emotionally, spiritually and sometimes physically. Just to help people heal." said Janelle Gorski, Caring Embrace Coordinator.

After two years with the group Bettinger is turning in her 100th hand knitted shawl, and this one is extra special.

"I just put more care into it," she says.

Like intricate patterns, lots of detail on the border and of course a little T.L.C.

But not only are her shawls warm and nice to look at, she's been told the wraps really make a difference.

Bettinger recalls a conversation when one widower told her that a shawl she had given to his wife actually helped him cope with her death.

"I says, when you get lonesome take it out and put it around your shoulders. It will make you feel better. And a couple of days later he came back and says to me, you know it works. He says, I missed my wife last night and I put the shawl around me and she was there."

And that's why Bettinger volunteers with Caring Embrace. She's hoping to help patients and families heal with all the love she has stitched into each and every shawl.

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