Friendship Circle Hosts Knitting Group

12 years ago, Lenore Yellen began a knitting group out of her home in Michigan.  The group was created to give the knitters an opportunity to work for a good cause and to socialize, as opposed to just sitting and watching TV.

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Lenore Yellen- Knitting Group Leader

Beginnings

Yellen’s love for service was born when her son was in treatments for cancer at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.  She was deeply upset by the condition of the blankets the patients were given so she went out and bought quality blankets and donated them to the hospital.

Yellen started the knitting group in her basement, where she had the women start out knitting squares, small pieces that would be combined to create larger projects, such as blankets. She then donated the completed pieces to hospitals so the patients would have warm, soft and quality blankets. Later the group began to knit hats and purchase mittens to donate to numerous organizations.

Lenore will not create anything that will be sold for profit; she only donates if the products will be given to patients or whoever needs them without them having to pay for anything. “Our goal is to give to everyone who needs, not to sell.”

The Golden Girls Knitting Group consists of thirty-five women, some of whom attend a group in South Florida, where Lenore spends her winters. While in Florida, everything the group creates is sent back to Michigan.

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The Golden Girls Knitting Group

A New Home

Lenore’s connection to Friendship Circle began around sixty years ago, when she connected with Rabbi Barel and Bat Shevah Shemtov, the parents of Rabbi Levi Shemtov, who would co-found Friendship Circle in 1994 with his wife, Bassie.

After the Friendship Circle opened their current main building in 2005, she started to donate hats to the Weinberg Village. Around this time she noticed that some of the women in the group were having difficulty getting into her basement.  She asked Bassie if she could use the Friendship Circle for her group and since then the Friendship Circle Knitting Group of Golden Girls, named in honor of the women’s ages, has met every Tuesday to knit for  a good cause.

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Some of The Golden Girls

Celebrating Success

Every July, the group celebrates everyone’s birthdays, with each member receiving a cupcake so they can blow out a candle in honor of themselves, and they all sing “Happy Birthday” to one another.

When asked how many pieces of knitting the group has donated since its inception, Lenore responded “Thousands! I couldn’t count that many… over the period of all these years, it’d have to be thousands and thousands.”

Lenore believes what they do absolutely has a positive impact on the community. “It’s helping people in need. We even give even king-sized sheets which families without beds can sleep on, and put the blanket on top of them.”

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Words of Advice

Lenore taught in Southfield Public Schools for twenty-one years, working with special needs children. “[They are] very, very dear to me. I love ’em to death. They love me and I love them… and I hope and I wish that, everybody out there would love ’em like I love ’em.” Yellen says of the children she’s worked with. “I love every single minute of these children. And they love me. And when they see me twenty, twenty-five years later, out on the street, they run and hug me and kiss me still. It just pleases my heart. They really are special.”

The group is always accepting new members and Lenore welcomes anyone, regardless of their level of experience with knitting. “All they have to do is come.”

Organizations and Groups the Golden Girls donate to:
Most of the Major Hospitals in Michigan
Synagogues and Churches
Head Start Academy
The Friendship Circle’s Weinerg Village
Temple Israel
Baldwin Center
Farmington Community School
The National Council of Jewish Women
Children’s Center in Downtown Detroit

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