Volunteers make a difference: Sarah Jenkins

Hillcrest Healthcare welcomes individuals, families and groups to volunteer at our three communities. Our volunteers are wonderful and provide so much encouragement and joy to our residents. We appreciate their dedication to helping others.

Over the past few years, volunteer Sarah Jenkins has made hundreds of blankets for residents and patients at Hillcrest Healthcare. Her dedication has brightened the day of so many and provides her the opportunity to help others through her passion of sewing.

Sarah started sewing as a child, taught by her mother, and she’s never stopped. She used to make her own clothes, but these days, she mostly sews for the needs of others – especially seniors.

She shares, “Several years ago, I saw something on television about a church that took donated items to needy people of Appalachia, so I made blankets for that ministry for several years. Health issues took me away from it for a while and my fabric started stacking up. I go to church with Diana Fisher (Hillcrest Healthcare’s director of development) and asked her if there was a need there, and that’s how I started making blankets for them.”

Diana estimates that Sarah has made hundreds of blankets for Hillcrest residents. Sarah shops the remnant tables at JOANN Fabric and Craft, searching for pieces of fleece that she can purchase for half or 75% off. Then, she matches the fabrics to create blankets that are as long as a twin-sized bed, but wider.

A sampling of blankets made by Sarah Jenkins

She picks a day to match all the fabrics, then takes another day to cut all the fabric, then takes about a week to sew them. She washes them all before handing the blankets off to Diana to take to the residents so they’re ready to be of service as soon as they arrive.

“Diana told me that some people do not get clothes, blankets or even visits from others, and I really enjoy making these blankets and I was raised to share, to help others, and it is such a good feeling to be able to help,” Sarah shares. “I wanted to be a missionary when I was younger, so I consider myself on the ‘home mission board!’ ”

She has a sewing spot set up in her basement so she can come and go without having to put everything away while she’s in a sewing phase. She has incorporated some down time due to eye issues but is about to start back after taking a month off. “I’m in a position that I feel like I can help, and I still want to.”

In addition to the blankets she makes and donates to Hillcrest, she also makes between 50-55 lap blankets each year for clients of Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee’s Mobile Meals/Meals on Wheels program that are handed out around the Christmas holidays.

Sarah retired from University of Tennessee in 2002 after serving as department support staff on the agriculture campus. She lives in West Knoxville with her husband and enjoys working in the yard in her flower beds in the summer and being productive by sewing during the winter. She encourages others that if they see a need – reach out!

We cherish the time, effort, energy and resources that our volunteers pour into the residents at our three Knoxville communities. If you have a talent to share or time to serve, we encourage you to fill out our volunteer form. Volunteers are welcome to assist with activities such as game nights and festivals; share a talent such as magic or music; lead community crafts; do building and grounds maintenance such as painting, weeding or planting; or even help with administration or events with our non-profit partner, Hillcrest Healthcare Foundation. We’ll find a spot for individuals or groups, so reach out today.

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