Julian Omidi profiles the founder of Handmade Especially for You, Leslye Borden.
Sometimes, having someone make a kind and thoughtful gesture, even if it is small, can make all the difference in our feelings of self worth. People who have suffered years of abuse might have been conditioned to believe that simple kindness is something they will never either experience or deserve, but one organization, Handmade Especially for You, seeks to give people without hope a ray of handmade sunshine.
Leslye Borden’s organization Handmade Especially for You, gives battered and abused women heartfelt, hand-knitted comfort scarves, which might be one of the few pieces of clothing the women have managed to retain after fleeing their dangerous conditions. These scarves are colorful, lovingly packaged and created by groups of volunteers from all over the world. Ms. Borden works with legions of recruits from church groups, retirement communities and community centers in order to produce the brightly patterned, cheerful scarves. Since the organization’s inception in 2008, more than 57,000 scarves have been knitted and distributed to women in abuse shelters all over the United States.
Ms. Borden’s organization was founded shortly after she sold her stock photo business in 2007. An avid knitting enthusiast, she spent her days knitting gifts for her grandchildren. Scarves, sweaters, slippers, mittens, hats; any item of clothing that could be fabricated with yarn and needles. When the number of articles began to overwhelm her family, she began donating the items to local shelters, and actively seeking organizations that needed knitted clothing. When she found a Chicago shelter looking for knitted scarves for the rape survivors it helped, the concept of Handmade Especially for You was born.
Many of the volunteers are abuse survivors themselves. Domestic abuse survivors are underrepresented members of society; they have little political or economic clout, so they are woefully unserved. Organizations such as Handmade Especially for You bring the problem of domestic violence to the fore by encouraging survivors, witnesses of domestic abuse and those who haven’t been personally affected to work together to give a neglected segment of society a gift and a helping hand.
Handmade Especially for You is currently seeking facilities to house the supplies and scarves, as well as serve as a workshop for volunteers. Currently, Ms. Borden keeps the supplies and donations in her home, which, thanks to the generosity of benefactors and volunteers, is becoming overwhelmed.
There are several satellite workshops where people can gather to knit and inspect scarves in accordance with Handmade’s specifications. However, for those whose schedules or obligations do not allow them to visit one of the organized workshops, Handmade has patterns and kits for people to use when working on their own. The organization has been highlighted by Oprah.com, as being a worthy volunteer opportunity for people who want to serve a charity from home.
We at Civic Duty would like to applaud Ms. Borden and her organization, not only for the invaluable service they provide to a vulnerable segment of the population, but also for bringing the problem of domestic abuse to greater public consciousness. Handmade Especially for You also gives survivors as well as people untouched by domestic violence the opportunity to gather together and learn about each other, which is essential if we are going to increase empathy and understanding of this tragic problem.
 Lubinskey, Annie: Local ‘Hero’ Offers Comfort to Abused Women Palos Verdes Peninsula News 3/5/2014 http://www.pvnews.com/news/local-hero-offers-comfort-to-abused-women/article_c9640b6e-a492-11e3-a0f4-0019bb2963f4.html