The “Sewcial Room”
By Karen Traverse
Marbletown Reformed Church in Stone Ridge, New York, had a big dream: to keep girls out of the sex trade by sewing dresses for them.
The dream didn’t start with dresses. It started in June 2014, when a nursery school once hosted by Marbletown merged with another facility, opening up space at the church for a new ministry.
Betsy Rama, Marbletown’s youth leader, talked with the youth group about new ways to use the room. The students wanted to use the space to create items for the Wounded Warrior Program, which supports injured service members. They held a fundraiser, and two sewing machines were donated to the room. So the students learned how to sew. In no time, they made Wounded Warrior placemats and prayer shawls.
During that time, Gae Barry, a Marbletown member, read about Dress a Girl Around the World, a campaign with this mission: “We dream of a world in which every girl has at least one new dress!” Dress a Girl provides girls with dresses sewn from new pillowcases. Each dress has a pocket with a label displaying the Dress a Girl logo. This label signifies that the girl is under the care of an organization, since many of the girls who receive a dress are in danger of being physically abused or even forced into slavery.
“When I read that the Dress a Girl labels would help keep them from predators, it just broke my heart,” says Barry. So she brought the idea to Rama and to the rest of the congregation. The result? The “Sewcial Room.”
That’s when Marbletown started dreaming big and decided to use the room to sew 100 dresses for Dress a Girl Around the World. Volunteers stepped up, donating sewing machines, painting the room, and adding comfortable furniture.
Volunteers helped in other ways, too. There were people who cut out the dress patterns and those who made bindings. Other volunteers ironed or packed the dresses for shipping. Some church members don’t sew, so they prayed for the project and helped with the financing, making it possible to purchase four new sewing machines as well as extension tables and other sewing supplies.
The sewing itself might be simple, but the project has had important effects. One volunteer said, “We help keep young girls out of sex trafficking. Those labels go a long way.”
Completing the 100 dresses does not mean that the Sewcial Room will be retired. Instead, it is just the beginning. Volunteers have determined that the next project in the Sewcial Room will be to make pillows to ease pain for breast cancer patients and women who need breast surgery. The room will also be used for prayer and devotions.
“This ministry is what God has intended all along,” says Rama.
[Photo by Amy Finkbeiner]