To enhance the quality of life in Central MA by gifting newly-made, hand-knit warmth to neighbors in need, and by teaching knitting to the elderly and to children, giving them purpose, and engaging them in the community.
- Distributed 3,300 warm, winter items to 24 agencies for their clients in need during 2011.
- Taught individuals with dementia and developmental disabilities to knit.
- Taught children (ages 8-12) and the elderly to knit.
Warmer Winters began as a group of seven knitters and crocheters knitting for homeless people in the Winter of 2006. The group gave out 200 items that Winter. In September of that year, the founder of Warmer Winters became a Community Builders Fellow (an initiative of the United Way) which comprised business consultation, mentoring, and a small stipend. It was enough to grow Warmer Winters to 35 volunteers. In 2007 Warmer Winters gave out 900 warm, Winter items. Shortly after that, Warmer Winters began it's teaching program. Last year, the organization gave out 3,300 items and taught 60 people to knit.
Organization Category: Human Services
Geographic Area Served: Central Massachusetts Region
- Additional revenue streams
- More volunteers who knit and/or crochet and/or teach knitting
- Board members for our board of directors with legal, IRS-related experience, and a treasurer
- $5,000 per year for the heavy, thick yarn used for warm items
- A webmaster to manage our website to help us get the word out about our services
Warmer Winters is a unique organization in that it serves several different populations. The primary population is people who are homeless or otherwise in need. We seek to warm bodies, but also hearts. Warmer Winters uses heavy, thick, warm yarn. Certainly, a heavy sweater worn in a home without heat can make a real difference. We're told, though, that the fact that we give beautiful, new items made with care makes a difference. We even put gift tags on the items we give so that the people who receive them know that we respect their dignity, and give from our hearts. Does giving something new make a difference, or is second-hand just as good? Ask the 8 year old boy who received one of our sweaters. He said, "It's so warm and comfortable. This is the first new sweater I ever had". A 4 year old girl said, "I love my rainbow sweater. It's my Christmas present". Words like these tell us we are warming more than hands.
Warmer Winters reaches out to the elderly in recruiting volunteers. Many are alone and in search of a place to belong. We also reach out to people with disabilities and people who are low income. Since we give all our yarn to volunteers free of charge, low income people can knit or learn to knit for their own families as well as contribute to the community. Our monthly "Knit Knites" are warm, friendly evenings where everyone belongs. It's fun for a good cause.
Board Chair Statement
I have had the privilege of serving on and leading nonprofit boards for many years. When I ask myself "why Warmer Winters?",especially as a non-knitter, I always point to two very important attributes of the organization... attributes that not all nonprofit organizations can state:
- Warmer Winters is 100% sustainable by volunteer efforts. There are not too many nonprofit initiatives - especially one's like Warmer Winters that are serving over 3,000 neighbors-in-need through over 25 agencies, for which donors and volunteers know that 100% of their gifts of time and treasure go to providing warm clothes and warm feelings to those whom we serve! From our hero and founder Judy Gentry - whose tireless efforts have made Warmer Winters a model of doing much with little, through to all of our individual volunteers and business partners, no compensation is ever requested or provided!
This is unique in the age of highly compensated nonprofit executives, board members and fundraisers!
Why am I, and so many others, so committed to Warmer Winters? It is because of the love of "gifting" to those in need that our founder and executive director Judy Gentry has instilled throughout all levels of the organization. She brings so much love and dedication to the cause, and is so open to new ideas and diverse supporters, that we can't help but follow her example!
- The second attribute that is at the core of the mission of Warmer Winters is that we don't just "gift" items to those in need, we also assist the elderly, young people and those down on their luck to again feel that they have value and can help themselves! We do this by teaching them to knit for their own families or to learn a skill, by giving them leadership training and experience, and mostly by treating each person or family that we come into contact with, with respect and dignity.
Won't you join with us?