By Saraana Jamraj
In their efforts to combat the loneliness of retirement, bring comfort to those with cancer, and keep babies cozy, members of Un Granito de Amor — or A Seed of Love, have dedicated themselves to the three things they love: crocheting, community, and charity.
The retirees, based in Tamarac, craft and crochet together, then donate their creations to various hospitals in order to clothe and comfort children fighting cancer along with premature babies and their families.
Hailing from various parts of the United States, Puerto Rico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Canada, Venezuela, and Ethiopia, members contribute a variety of skills including crocheting, looming, knitting, sewing, writing, and marketing.
The group was formed in August of 2018, by Ingrid Cohen, Ana Alba, and Yomira Lozano who met while making rosaries for their church. They decided to meet in the clubhouse of Cohen’s Tamarac neighborhood, Lakes of Carriage Hills, to make some crafts on their own.
They began crocheting, and their group expanded, with some members mastering the skill in their youth while others had just begun.
“I came in not knowing how to do anything,” said Cathy Pironti, who now looms with great skill.
Before they knew it, they had more scarves than they could possibly wear. They decided to start donating some of their crocheted creations and began their tradition of giving to children’s hospitals.
Cohen, lovingly known as “Abuela” Cohen by the community, loves that their group is focused on giving.
“Any kind of comfort we can bring to others is a plus for us,” she said.
When they finish crocheting, they donate their creations to Cleveland Clinic, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, and the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. They also sell multi-use, microwaveable sponges with customized notes of inspiration for the purpose of donating proceeds to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
Over the last couple of years, they have made beanies, blankets, scarves, and a variety of comfort items. They crochet stuffed octopuses for the children in NICU as a solution for when premature babies seek to pull on a cord the way they once clung on to their umbilical cords, often pulling on their oxygen cords. These stuffed octopuses offer up eight tentacles for them to pull, and they work wonderfully.
When those babies are in the process of growing stronger and leaving the unit, the group even makes tiny graduation caps for them.
The hospital nurses and staff, as well as the recipients and their families, have been grateful for the group’s donations. When the group donates, the staff showers them with hugs and kisses, and describe the experience as a “monthly visit from Santa Claus.”
“The feeling we experience doing this is better than anything in life. Knowing that we can use our time, effort and even our savings in giving a little hope or a little comfort to somebody who needs it, is priceless,” said Cohen.
They have donated 1,845 crocheted items so far and are eager to continue. They meet once a week on Wednesdays in Cohen’s clubhouse. While they crochet, they catch up on life, tell stories, and feel the joy of connecting with others.
“It’s good therapy,” said group member Ramonita Figueroa.
The rest of the group agreed with her, thankful for the friendship and the opportunity to continue learning and improving their skills while improving the lives of others.
“Having our meeting in our adult community, we have had the opportunity to help mitigate the loneliness some people in our age group may have with a few hours of friendship with other people who share our interests,” said Cohen.
In doing this, they complete the dual mission of helping others as well as themselves. Currently, they are seeking donations of yarn, fabric, and funds in order to continue their charitable work and spread even more seeds of love. The group can be found on Facebook under their name Un Granito de Amor.
Said Cohen, “The greatest motivation is to give and to love. We give more meaning to our lives, and makes others a little happier too.”
- Saraana Selene Jamraj is a writer, activist, and a student pursuing her master's degree in mass communications at Florida International University.
She's currently the communications manager at The Salt Box in Parkland and has lived in Coral Springs since 2004.
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