My favorite poem of all time is the Road Not Taken (you can listen to it here). I always like to revert back to this poem because it is very relevant in life and especially in my life. Of late, I think about the different roads that Scott’s Free Sewing Machine project has taken me down and it is truly remarkable because without the adventures, I would be on the same old boring path. Remember happy boring Scott? Life is too short to just be on auto-pilot down the same path day in and day out. Sometimes you just gotta mix things up and stir the pot.
Let’s talk about the roads. The first road I was taken down was the road to Freedom Place in Houston. This was all thanks to Linda Yarrow for her request for a machine to help find a creative outlet for the residents (young sex trafficking victims) of Freedom Place. To be honest, I think that this road I was taken down changed my life forever. It opened my eyes to the barbaric ways of some people in our society and it touched my heart so badly that I couldn’t sit there and not try to help. So I helped and helped and I will continue to help. In short, aside from providing fabric and financial support, I helped to facilitate Freedom Place getting 17 sewing machines so all of their residents would have their own machine thanks to SVP (Singer Viking Pfaff–10 machines) and my BFF Joanne (7 machines).
Another eye-opener on the Freedom Place front was when my new friend, Jennifer, who works at the Freedom Place, spoke at a dinner that Jaftex hosted at quilt market for about 30 people. After Jennifer spoke, there was not a dry eye in the room, but in spite of it being very sad to hear, it made everyone in that room want to help those youngsters being sex trafficked. Trust me when I tell you that no one will forget what Jennifer said that night.
Let’s talk about another road. How could I forget the #sewrevolution? The sewing revolution that I have been promoting would not have been a thing if I didn’t start giving away free sewing machines. The idea just popped in to my head one day that if there are more sewing machines being used, more people will be quilting and sewing and this will help reverse the negative trends in the fabric industry. So why not promote it as such? This byproduct of the free sewing machine giveaway is such a noble cause because it is helping to keep this industry alive and kicking…an industry that my family has been involved with since the early 1900’s. It may seem selfish of me, but this is my livelihood and I need to do what I can to support it and keep it alive and kicking for as long as possible. All those future generations of Fortunoff’s are going to need jobs. And I do love my job. I do love seeing the beautiful things that people create with fabric. I do love seeing the smile on people’s face when they see our fabrics. I love selling fabric. I love the kind people in our industry. If that isn’t enough to try to keep this baby alive, I don’t know what is. Are you with me?
There are just so many roads that I don’t know which should be discussed next. OK, let’s talk about my friend Emelia. When I select sewing machine recipients, I only ask 2 simple things of them in return for the machine:
- Pay it forward.
- Share photos with me of the machine and all that is being made because I want to feel good about having chosen each recipient.
Anyway, with respect to #2 (sharing photos), Emelia is my star. In fact, she is becoming a staple on all the Jaftex social media sites. Every time that she makes something we post the pictures. All the social media followers are getting a lot of joy out of watching Emelia grow with the help of her new sewing machine. They are all cheering her on and being so supportive…it is amazing. She is now being commissioned to do work and getting paid. She is taking lots of classes. She is going to work with me to try to create a local kids club of young quilters and we are discussing so much more. Emelia talks about working at Jaftex one day which would be so cool if it really happened. In addition, Blank Quilting is going to honor her by naming a line after her. In any case, to say that she is a changed person for the better because of fabric and a sewing machine would be a major understatement. And this folks is why we need to keep promoting all the great art that can be produced with fabric. Keep up the good work Emelia. Thank you for being such an inspiration.
Oh the roads….there are so many and will be so many more. For me, the road that I most cherish is the photographs of all the recipients smiling with their machines. I just can’t get enough of that because a photo speaks a million words. But it is not just the words, it is the future possibilities that arise because of a new sewing machine, because of fabric and because of our amazing fabric industry.
These are all my new roads and there are lots of other endless ones ahead. So, we continue the march down the untraveled roads. Hopefully you will continue to join me to see the surprises that lie ahead around each corner.
Have a great week. Happy President’s Day!
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995 words including these.