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Prayer shawls and blankets donated to sexual assault survivors

Prayer shawls and blankets donated to sexual assault survivors

Prayer shawls and blankets donated to sexual assault survivors

LaPorte Catholic Church Prayer Shawl Ministry members donated shawls to Franciscan Health Michigan City's Center of Hope. Pictured, from left, are ministry members Donna Larson and Patty Steele, Franciscan Health Michigan City SANE nurse Michelle Runions, Vice President of Mission Integration Sister Petra Nielsen, President and CEO Dean Mazzoni, SANE Coordinator Lori Bridegroom, and Prayer Shawl Ministry member Valerie Young.

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."

To qualify, nonprofits must serve vulnerable populations in communities that are served by Franciscan Health. The health care system is particularly looking for programs that would help populations most in need, such as at-risk youths, refugees and immigrants, those with chronically low resources, and victims of systemic racism.

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."

Coming Sunday, ride along with Specialist Dyer as he patrols LaPorte.

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 or call 219-661-3401.


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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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