May 16, 2008

For more than 35 years, members of the Creative Homemakers Club have lent their hands to a downtown center in Louisville for the needy. The members come weekly to help sort clothes and over the years have raised funds for it as well.

Mary Rose Krebs, a member of the Creative Homemakers Club in Jefferson County, helps coordinate the club’s efforts at Catholic Charities’ Sister Visitor Center. The Homemakers organization is part of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

“Some of the ladies come once a week, and we’ve been doing this for years,” she said. “We strictly work with the clothing. You should see it at Christmastime; it’s really busy.”

The clothes are sorted by gender, size and season and placed in different clothes baskets or boxes. Clothes with the tags still on them are set aside for the clients to sort through as gifts at Christmas. Some of the overflow is given to other charitable agencies.

The club has an annual luncheon to raise money for the center in addition to their hands-on work. Club members donate items to the meal. They also take up a collection at each of their meetings. They used to have an auction to make extra money for the center, but it got so big they stopped that. Chris Mundt, club president, said the work with the center is their main service project.

“My husband and I come down,” she said. “He likes to work down here. It’s such a friendly atmosphere, and they treat the clients with respect. At the end of the day, I feel very satisfied. Sometimes I feel tired because of the bending and reaching, but it’s worth it. It makes you feel good to think you are doing something positive.”

Sister Rebecca Miles, director of the Sister Visitor Center, said it opened in 1969 under the Department of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Louisville.

“It started simply by seeing the needs of the people in the area and trying to help meet some of those needs - the basic needs of food, clothes,” she said. “We help with rent, utilities and medicine. We help seasonally with Easter baskets and at Christmas time with toys for the children and new outfits. We do a variety of things. Some of my staff and volunteers even visit with people who are shut in their homes and can’t get out. We also participate in some of the community programs.

The center serves three of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, Miles said. Clients include young mothers with children, elderly, handicapped and homeless.

“The Homemakers have been coming almost since the doors were opened,” she said. “We opened in 1969, and they’ve been coming since 1972. They’ve just been a marvelous support in every way especially in the friendships that have developed between the staff and homemakers. They are just a wonderful group of women and we are grateful to each and every one of them. Some have gotten their husbands involved, which is wonderful as well.

“I’ve been with the program for 17 years,” she said. “We’ve kind of all grown old together.”

After so many years, some may think the club members’ interest would wane, but that’s not the case, Krebs said.

“Its fun down here,” she said. “The workers and the clients coming in are so nice. The social workers and the sisters are just so fun to work with. Everybody’s smiling all the time down here. It just makes me feel good. I feel like I’m helping other people. I love it.”

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