New sewing group helps clients make friends, learn new skill

22 February 2019

After months of planning, UHHR kicked off a new project in September — a sewing group for our clients.

Every other week, just over a dozen clients have been gathering to learn the craft by creating fun and useful items for their homes. So far, that’s meant learning how to cut out patterns and make simple things like pillowcases and purses.

“Most of them haven’t even touched a sewing machine before,” said Amal Muftin, the UHHR case manager who’s running the group.

Though the sewing group has definitely been fun for our staff and clients, we decided to start it because of its therapeutic and practical benefits.

When refugees move to the U.S., they often experience isolation that can negatively impact their mental health. Groups like this one combat clients' loneliness by encouraging them socialize with people who speak their native languages or have similar backgrounds. With time, the sewing group just might spur the growth of lasting friendships and social support networks.

On top of that, learning to sew could very well lead our clients toward a new career path. Even if clients don't choose to sew professionally, learning this useful skill will provide them with a confidence boost and a means of making things they would have to purchase otherwise.

The group, which is made up of Congolese and Iraqi clients, has so far been meeting at the Refugee Education & Training Center. However, we're hoping to soon start holding the group at our new office, which has a large space where clients can gather.

If you’d like to help us continue to host and expand the sewing group, we’ve got a few ideas for you. Our biggest need is more sewing machines. If you’re interested in donating a new or lightly used machine, get in touch with Ann Elise Taylor at .

Our amazing network of donors has already provided us with fabric, thread, and sewing supply kits for the group. Keep an eye on our this newsletter and our wishlist emails, though — as the year goes on, we’ll likely request more of these items.