Sew Can Do celebrates Christmas in July by raising money for charity. Get to know Cheryl Bush, her beneficiary and her answers to our questions about the virtues of generosity and compassion with this post from the Balsam Hill blog.
When it comes to hard work and dedication, Cheryl is proof that any person can learn to make artistic crafts even without formal training or years of experience. As she shares on her blog, Cheryl had a hard time learning how to sew when she was younger. This busy mother of three says surviving 7th grade Home Economics was the extent of her “crafting expertise” back then. However, she knew right from the start that she wanted to make beautiful things in her life. Cheryl overcame her “fear of the unknown” and gave crafting a try. Since then, she has fallen in love with fashioning various craft-related projects using her graceful hands.
Since setting up her blog, Sew Can Do, Cheryl has made wonderful pieces of art that she shares with her friends and followers. While her duties as a mom will always come first, she never fails to make some time for her projects. She has written articles on design for magazines in the United States and in the United Kingdom. A few of her concepts have been published in several books, including 20 Crafty Makes and Craft It Now. In addition, Cheryl is also a regular contributor for Timeless Treasure fabrics and has done several projects for Pellon, CRI-Kits, and many other craft supply companies. She has come a long way from that little girl who “could barely sew a straight line”.
In her recent interview with Balsam Hill, Cheryl provides insight to why she picked the National Stroke Association as her charity for our Christmas in July charity campaign. She recognizes the importance of the organization in helping victims of stroke cope with their condition. Cheryl points to an episode in her life when her grandfathered suffered a stroke and had a difficult time during recovery. “It was very isolating because most people didn’t understand what they were going through and there wasn’t much available to help cope with life after the hospital stays and limited therapies ended,” Cheryl shares. “Being able to get guidance, connect with people facing the same obstacles and educate others through an organization like this really makes a difference. Those affected can feel hopeful instead of hopeless.
Just like when she first started out in the world of design, Cheryl continues to face the challenges of daily life with the same vision and enthusiasm she had in overcoming her fears. And she never forgets to share her lessons, both in crafts and in life, with others.
BH: Could you tell us a bit about the cause you’re supporting and what it means to you?
Cheryl: I’m supporting the National Stroke Association. Stroke can effect almost anyone – young or old, man or woman, seemingly healthy or not. Many people still don’t know much about preventing or identifying strokes, despite it being the 4th leading cause of death in the US. My grandfather was a multiple stroke survivor, so it means a lot to me to see an organization bringing awareness, reducing incidence and providing emotional & practical support to other families faced with this disease.
BH: Deciding on a charity to support can be difficult. What led you to choose the charity you’re helping for this campaign?
Cheryl: My grandparents were about to start enjoying their new retirement when my grandfather suffered his first massive stroke. He then had many recurrent strokes over the next few years. He was left permanently paralyzed and unable to walk, talk or write. It dramatically changed life for our entire family for over a decade. The National Stroke Association didn’t exist back then and there wasn’t much technology, medication or emotional support to help stroke victims or their families. It was very isolating because most people didn’t understand what they were going through and there wasn’t much available to help cope with life after the hospital stays and limited therapies ended. Being able to get guidance, connect with people facing the same obstacles and educate others through an organization like this really makes a difference. Those affected can feel hopeful instead of hopeless.
BH: Charity and giving are two things that are often associated with the holiday season, but can be easy to forget in our day-to-day lives. Do you have any tips for how people can incorporate the spirit of giving more into their everyday lives?
Cheryl: I think setting a goal or putting up a visible reminder really helps. We’ll put certain things on the calendar to remind us to donate or when there’s an opportunity to volunteer down the road so the priority level doesn’t slip as we get busy or get forgotten.
BH: Could you share a story about a time someone did something kind for you that really touched you?
Cheryl: Right after I had my 3rd child, a fellow mom I didn’t know very well (who has since become a good friend) made my family a meal and brought it over. I’d had some postnatal complications so it was very welcome help. She had just had a baby herself the week before so despite having her own challenges, she did something that wasn’t easy or convenient for her. Her selflessness and the help when I really needed it meant a lot.
BH: Could you tell us about a time you observed a random act of kindness that really resonated with you?
Cheryl: Whenever I see someone helping a mother struggling to do basic tasks with small children in tow – be it holding open a door, helping carry things, allowing her to go first, etc. There have been many times when my children were very small that I felt overwhelmed. I was so grateful when someone took a moment of their time to make a difficult moment easier.
BH: Could you share a story about a time you did something special for a friend or family member and how they reacted?
Cheryl: I’d found boxes of old negatives of my grandmother’s in a closet – many were over 80 years old and very fragile. My husband researched and found a scanner that worked with negatives and we hand scanned hundreds of photos and organized them into folders for my mother as a surprise gift. There were pictures of her parents she had never seen and many from special events throughout the years that had never been made into photos. She was incredibly surprised and delighted. She also got a bit teary when she saw a long lost image of my grandpa in the diving suit he wore to diffuse ocean mines during World War II.
BH: How do you encourage your kids to be giving?
Cheryl: I remind them to do something kind once a day – help each other, say something nice to someone else, be generous with what you have or your time. Even if it’s something small, it counts.
BH: Is there a time when your children acted generously in a way that surprised and delighted you?
Cheryl: We had brought back some presents for our children after a weekend away. We were saving a bigger, surprise item for our 8-year old son for last so he saw his siblings getting many smaller things while he just had a small mesh laundry bag. He didn’t ask why he wasn’t getting more. He didn’t even show any jealousy. He was genuinely happy for everyone else and contentedly thanked us for his little bag. He truly appreciated what he had. I was really proud that he wasn’t putting his own wants first. It’s not easy for adults to do that, let alone kids, so it was really nice to see.
BH: What do you think is a simple way people can give back to their communities?
Cheryl: Donating – be it time, money or things you don’t need. Taking a few minutes to do something for someone or giving something you no longer use that could really make a difference to someone else and doesn’t take much effort.
If you would like to donate to the National Stroke Association, please visit Balsam Hill’s Christmas Charity page.