NEW HOLLAND, Pa. — When she joined a craft club at Garden Spot Village, Gladys Ziegenfus never imagined that she might someday be part of an international enterprise.
Ziegenfus is part of a group of residents at the Village’s Mountain View personal care community who make soap, press flowers and do other handicrafts, including tea bag folding. The group recently made a connection with Ten Thousand Villages and has a meeting scheduled this month with Melissa Hand, a buyer for the global fair trade retailer, to talk about folded paper designs for a group of women in Bangladesh.
“The Mountain View craft group is becoming a kind of idea development workshop for Melissa and the paper-making workshops” in Bangladesh, said Deborah Fast, director of volunteer services at Garden Spot Village. Prior to joining theteam at the retirement community a year ago, Fast worked for Ten Thousand Villages as a buyer and as creative director.
For the past few years, the group has made soap to sell at the annual Garden Spot Village Fall Festival and Country Auction, which benefits the Garden Spot Village Benevolent Fund. Recently, they began offering soaps in the VillageStore. Available in four scents, the soaps quickly sold out, and the store has placed additional orders. The group is working on a limited-edition scent for Valentine’s Day.
“Residents help make the soap and then wrap it and decorate it using flowers we have pressed during the summer,” said Diane Pechart, activities director at Mountain View.
Ten Thousand Villages offers handmade paper items crafted by women in rural Bangladesh, who rely on such sales to feed their families. The Mountain View crafters plan to order paper from the paper-making workshops to wrap the soaps.
Currently, the women are learning the art of tea bag folding from Mickey Adams, a future resident.
“These are intricate small folds to make a huge variety of designs,” said Fast. The folded paper is then glued to greeting cards. The crafters are using samples from the Bangladesh paper makers to develop folded paper designs, which they would share with Hand and the women in Bangladesh. The goal is to develop designs products that could be sold in Ten Thousand Villages stores across the United States and online.
“This is a very significant outreach on the part of Mountain View,” said Fast. “This group, with Mickey’s leadership, provides enormous potential.”
The group will meet with Hand early in January to learn more about the papermakers in Bangladesh and to review the folded paper designs.
Initiatives like these at Garden Spot Village are shattering the stereotypes of personal care and skilled nursing.
“Simply because people have reached a point where they need some health care assistance doesn’t mean they have to stop dreaming, contributing and making a difference in the world,” said Scott Miller, director of marketing.
Ziegenfus agrees. “It’s wonderful to know that I’ll spend these last years at such a special place with so manyopportunities,” she said.