by Cheryl Senn
With the simple tools of crochet and knitting needles, four volunteers from the Sanger Chat ‘N Sew group have created more than 500 knit caps for boys and men participating in the Teen Challenge of Southern California (TCSC) rehabilitation program.
For the past three and a half years, Rose McCloud has led four members of the Sanger Vista Del Monte Mobile Home Park Chat ‘N Sew group in crocheting and knitting hats for boys and young men who are trying to get a fresh start. McCloud, Elsie Silva and Ernie Miller have crocheted hats while fellow volunteer, Mary Burnett, knits hats.
“I started the project on my own and then Elsie Silva decided that she wanted to help me and so did some other ladies,” McCloud said. “And Elsie really got motivated with it.”
According to McCloud, there is a need for 150 hats every winter season. “There’s 144 boys at Riverside Teen Challenge.” The boys and young men that have completed their detox program have a duty to work in a car wash. “They’ve already finished their detox program and now they’re on their way to becoming good citizens of the community.”
Working at the car wash can be very cold during the wintertime and the workday begins as early as 3 a.m. “So, unfortunately, in the winter time it’s very cold and they need hats,” added McCloud. Every participant in the TCSC program spends time working at the car wash.
Crocheting and knitting the hats is a year round activity. “We work on the hats whenever we want to,” said McCloud. “She (Elsie) does it all the time.”
The yarn to make the hats comes from any unused yarn the Chat ‘N Sew group has. “We just use up the yarn we get,” said McCloud. “We go to Salvation Army. We go to Goodwill.” The Sanger Woman’s Club donates yarn to the group as well.
According to TCSC literature, the mission of the program is to provide youth, adults and families with an effective and comprehensive Christian faith-based solution to life-controlling drug and alcohol problems in order to become productive members of society. Teen Challenge endeavors to help people become mentally-sound, emotionally-balanced, socially-adjusted, physically-well, and spiritually-alive.
The TCSC program is free and consists of induction centers, life schools, a Teen Challenge Ministry Institute, and assistance with housing during the re-entry phase into the workforce.
There are programs for males and females, but McCloud and her group have focused on the program for males. According to McCloud, TCSC used to be open to just teens, but the program saw many adults who were seeking help and they didn’t want to turn anybody away. “So, now there is no age limit, but they do have to be a minimum age of 16, but they do accept older gentlemen too.”
McCloud decided to become involved with TCSC and eventually became a TCSC Women’s Guild member, because, she said,” My son finished that program and eventually became a pastor, because they offered him a free Bible college.”
Six years ago McCloud received a phone call from someone who was living on the streets with her son, Scott, who had not been in contact with her for 11 years and one day. The person on the other end of the phone asked for her to identify herself, which she did, and the person handed the phone to her son because he wanted to talk to his mother. “I fell to my knees because I thought my son was dead, because I hadn’t heard from him in 11 years.” Scott and Rose had a tearful reunion on the phone. Scott wanted to return home and Rose’s requirement was for him to enter a drug rehab facility. Rose’s daughter had some experience with caring for children of participants of the TCSC programs, so Scott entered the TCSC program.
Six years later, Scott works for the program.
McCloud feels that the work the TCSC program does is very valuable and volunteers are working on getting a TCSC facility to locate in Fresno. “Right now, if a student enters the Teen Challenge program, the boys go to Shafter and the girls go to Bakersfield.”
According to McCloud there are four students from Sanger currently participating in the program.
The Chat ‘N Sew group also collects chap stick, dental floss and other items that go into Christmas bags for each of the boys in the program. The filled bags are distributed during a Christmas party. “They each get a Christmas bag, no matter how long they’ve been there,” McCloud said.
The crocheted and knitted hats take four or five hours to make and have a big impact on the wearers of the hats. McCloud said she has spoken to people who work for the TCSC program who were once participants in the program and they still have their hats.
The Chat ‘N Sew group just delivered this year’s 150 hats and is working on next year’s hats and welcomes donations of yarn to help make this happen. Rose McCloud can be reached via email at rosesdoz@gmail[dot]com
Watch KRL for more Sanger related articles by Cheryl!