Hopewell Love INC stitches together the community one craft at a time

Photos by Emily Thiel Friends since they were children, Geri Angstadt, Douglassville, (left) and Muriel D'Augustine, Exeter, (right) work at crafting table lamps from donated meat grinders.

Volunteers with Hopewell Love In the Name of Christ have been crafting for the community by creating holiday treasures in a positive light for the past three years.

Over 20 crafters begin preparations as early as February for their annual Winter Craft Show, where they dedicate themselves three days a week painting, gluing and decorating in high spirits.

The Hopewell Love INC Winter Craft Show will be held 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27 and Sunday, Sept. 28 at the Birdsboro Community Center, 201 E. Main St., Birdsboro.

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Pat Radiosky, Wyomissing, is a self-proclaimed “artsy person,” and with her recent retirement crafting with Hopewell Love INC is a healthy way to fill her time and make a difference in the local community.

“It's a nice way to give back,” Radiosky said. “If I can't make it [to craft] one day, I miss it.” Radiosky was encouraged to join from her best friend, Cindy Weiler, who has been crafting for “years and years.”

“I've been here since the beginning with Busy Fingers, Fancy Workers,” Weiler, Birdsboro, said. Even on her crafting “off-days,” Weiler enjoys working on the artistry.

“I even sat around yesterday and made bows,” she said. “I love the fact that we can help people.”

Helping people and giving back to the community is the volunteers' main goal. In addition to their Winter Craft Show, Hopewell Love INC is intertwined in helping members of the community in a variety of projects and events.

The organization crafts with seniors at Berks Encore, host two designer handbag bingos, host a community meal at the Birdsboro Community Center 6 p.m. every second and fourth Tuesday of each month, host a clothing shelter 10 a.m. to noon the second and fourth Saturday of the month at the Birdsboro Church of the Nazarene and are responsible for Christmas in Birdsboro.

All of their events would not be possible without the people behind it.

The three men of the group complete the woodwork, sawing, sanding, and assembling. Tom Fick, Birdsboro, was roped into helping one year ago by his wife and high school sweetheart after he retired from a career in insurance.

“It's fun and serves a great purpose,” Fick said, flashing a smile.

The group enjoys their time spent together, gathering in one member's Birdsboro home week after week. The house is filled with chatter, and delicious treats are always cooking.

The food is what entices Chet Weidenhammer, Sinking Spring, who has been volunteering his time working with them for the past three to four months.

“I appreciate the perks... good food and desserts,” Weidenhammer said. Weidenhammer is experienced with small wood shop work as a hobby, so crafting with Hopewell Love INC both “gets you out of the house” and is a productive way to spend time.

Creative methods of transforming everyday objects into crafts is what they do best. The group credits Mary Kilareski, Birdsboro, as the mastermind behind creativity and artistic details for the crafts.

Kilareski taps into her talents from working with children as a teacher at Monocacy Kindergarten Center to the sessions.

“We have a great time together, helping the community, and having fun doing crafts,” Millie Mintzer, Birdsboro, said while setting up a flower arrangement.

The women paint wooden handcrafted wheel barrels for mums and transform donated cast iron meat grinders into table lamps.

From donated items and supplies from warehouses, Hopewell Love INC create six to eight different crafts weekly for a complete collection of over 400 items by the time the Winter Craft Show hits.

The majority of crafts are geared towards the Thanksgiving, and Christmas theme, but they also offer Halloween crafts, and some everyday type decorations.

Hopewell Love INC credits their craft shows and bingos for accumulating about 75 percent of the foundation's income, with the additional 25 percent coming directly from churches and private donations.

Geri Angstadt, Douglassville, has been crafting with the group for three years.

“I like the fellowship, the attitude of the people and helping other people,” she said. “We have a lot of fun.”

For Gayle Kramer, Douglassville, the craft sessions are like therapy. Kramer appreciates the attitude of the crafters, “having fun while you're doing something worthwhile and helping the community. The crafters create their own community and enjoy spending time with one another. A group of the women have an upcoming trip planned to the beach at Ocean City, N.J. as a way to escape for a short while from working on the hundreds of crafts.

Russ McClellan serves as the executive director for Hopewell Love INC. For more information on the organization , visit them online at loveinc.org.

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About the Author

Emily Thiel

Emily Thiel is the editor of The Southern Berks News and is the Community Engagement Editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers. Emily joined Berks-Mont in March 2013. She graduated from Kutztown University in 2011 with a degree in English with a concentration in Cultural and Media Studies. Emily is a native of Allentown, Pa. Reach the author at ethiel@berksmontnews.com or follow Emily on Twitter: @sthrnberksnews.