By TIFFANY RONEY
While other outdoor concert attendees sat still, using their hands only to bat away bugs or give end-of-song applause, Joan Marshall kept her fingers busy making mug rugs for Memorial Health System employees and volunteers.
Marshall, director of MHS’ craft committee, said she and her fellow committee members knit 50 mug rugs and 100 potholders each year. The crafts are then given to cooks and judges at the annual Flour Power Family Fun Fest in May. All these knitted items are made by 13 volunteers.
“Most of them, every one of them but one, is over 70, and we have one that’s 92,” Marshall said, referring to the ages of the knitters. “We have a good group.”
Marshall said she holds respect for Michelle McClanahan, director of volunteer services for MHS, because McClanahan is in charge of a multi-faceted team of more than 80 volunteers.
“She’s a real good volunteer coordinator – she has a lot of good ideas,” Marshall said. “She’s really a great leader. She keeps us all in shape.”
Beginning in knitting
While her knitting comrades are now locals she met through the committee, her beginning in knitting was a family affair.
“My mother used to stitch pillowcases, embroidered them all, and I kind of got interested,” Marshall said. “Then, my older sister started doing it and she taught me a lot. Then, I taught my daughter.”
Though Marshall said she enjoys knitting, she does not sell her work or display it at craft shows. Rather, she prefers to use them at home and give them away to family, friends and people who are celebrating retirement. She often gifts the dishcloths she knits.
“Why do I do it? I love to do crafts,” she said. “My daughter does the same thing. I love needlepoint. I love cross-stitch. I knit. I crochet. I enjoy it.”
Giving through the hospital
Marshall’s knitting pastime translated naturally into giving to the community through Memorial Hospital because Marshall used to work as a nurse. Her husband has also translated his hobbies and job experience into volunteering for MHS. He worked as a landscaper to earn money to attend seminary, so he had grounds keeping experience to contribute to the community.
“He loves the outdoors so we go down to Village Manor,” Marshall said. “They had an ad saying, ‘We need volunteers for the outside work, for trimming bushes,’ so we do that all the time.”
Her husband also leads Village Manor’s weekly bingo games. Additionally, the Marshalls trim bushes and plant flowers at the meditation area at the hospital.
“I’m really pleased with it, and I think they’ve done a good job in their new expansion,” she said. “We really enjoy the hospital and think it’s really good in the community.”
Value of volunteerism
Marshall said she wanted to encourage people to volunteer for MHS.
“We’re always looking for volunteers,” she said. “It’s really rewarding to do something for somebody else.”
The Marshalls also serve as volunteer groundskeepers for Emmanuel Church and Southern Baptist Church.
“We enjoy volunteering, and as long as we’re well, we can do it,” Marshall said. “If something happens that we can’t do it, then we’ll have to find something else we can do sitting down. We’re just enjoying everything that we can while we’re still in good health, not in perfect health, but God’s been good.”