Alice Ann Ungs is a retired hospice nurse who never surrendered her love of the ministry. She asked the Lord to give her more ways to serve Him and soon after, ‘Love Stitches’ was born.
“It is geared towards making prayer shawls and lap blankets for the terminally ill,” said Ungs. Her goal the first year was to create 100 knitted or crocheted items to deliver to Hospice of Health First in Brevard County. She never expected the overwhelming response from her parish, Church of Our Saviour in Cocoa Beach, and the surrounding community. In just three months, she already had 150 shawls and blankets. “You plant the seed and the Holy Spirit will water it,” she said. The ministry has been so successful that she has broadened the circle of recipients to shut-ins, those in nursing homes and others in need within her parish.
One of the first couples to help launch the ministry were Ronald and Mary Kay Hill. The couple was vacationing in Cocoa Beach and happened to see Ungs’ bulletin request for help. They tapped their long-established KQC (Knitting, quilting and crocheting) ministry at St. John Neumann in Lakeland for support.
Hill is also a retired nurse and both Love Stitches and KQC ministries’ growth have spawned new projects like cross bookmarks made by a 93-year-old gentleman, baby blankets for the newly baptized, patriotic-themed blankets for veterans, oxygen tubing covers and catheter bag cases “to preserve the patient’s dignity at the bedside,” says Ungs. Love Stitches has even been asked to make fidget blankets, blankets with zippers and often hidden items, for patients battling Alzheimer’s disease.
“We are using our hands and hearts to show God’s love in the world,” Hill said. The two groups reflect the Scripture on which Love Stitches was founded, 1 Jn 4:7, “Let us love one another, for love is of God.” Hill is currently working with her team to also serve the growing migrant community.
In addition to the ministry, Ungs continues to accompany terminally ill patients as a volunteer. She often brings them a specially wrapped shawl or blanket, reads from Scripture or simply listens. As she carefully packages the items for distribution, Ungs attaches a prayer she wrote conveying the ministry’s desire “to further God’s comfort and love in a time when they are trying to reach the end of life,” she explained. She says the response from the patients and family members “are tears and joy.” Many have even sent notes of appreciation and cried, moved by the thoughtfulness of these servants of God.
The ministry began in March and now extends to other faith communities that help the cause, while the twelve to 20 core crafters continue gathering weekly at Our Saviour Parish. Despite their own physical ailments, they come together to share faith, fellowship, and to teach the younger generation, while creating their gifts of love. Ungs said, “It’s an amazing privilege to do God’s work and be servants.”
If you are interested in helping, contact Ungs at email@example.com or Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic – July 25, 2018