The Prayer Shawl Ministry of LaPorte Catholic Church has been knitting shawls and blankets for survivors of sexual assault at Franciscan Health Michigan City’s Center of Hope, a space where victims get one-on-one trauma care by specially trained nurses.
The center has an emergency clothes closet that provides replacement clothing, undergarments and blankets to the patients whose clothing often must be taken as forensic evidence.
Prayer Shawl Ministry members Valerie Young, Patty Steele and Donna Larson donated 60 shawls and blankets to provide comfort.
“We didn’t know there was such a need. We didn’t know about the human trafficking. That was an education to us,” Young said. "Along with treating sexual abuse victims, sexual assault nurse examiner nurses are trained to detect victims of human trafficking, an issue in Northwest Indiana that often falls below the radar."
The knitters are all cancer survivors who appreciate compassionate care.
“We were just happy to provide that service," Young said. "We’re a service ministry, and that’s what we do."
About 10 knitters in the three Catholic parishes in LaPorte County participate in the Prayer Shawl Ministry.
“When we’re making the shawls, we’re asking God for blessings for the recipient,” Young said.
Such donations can make a huge difference for victims, Michigan City SANE nurse Michelle Runions said.
“I had a young mother that was a victim of attempted murder. She was brought in by police distraught, no personal belongings," she said. "While I was taking care of her, I found out that all her belongings including her purse, phone and car keys were detained at the crime scene as evidence. I was so thankful that our hospital is proactive with our community closet. My patient was able to receive new clothing and toiletries to freshen up with.”
Franciscan Health Michigan City SANE Coordinator Lori Bridegroom said the shawls would be appreciated and a source of comfort during a devastating time for victims.
“I sometimes feel sad and think our world has just become a cold, dark place," she said. "But then there are moments like this, and I realize that just isn't true. There is so much more good in our world than bad; the bad things just seem to get more publicity.”
The Franciscan Health Michigan City’s Center of Hope is always accepting donations.
For more information, visit FranciscanHealthFoundation.org/programs/center-hope or call 219-661-3401.