Interview by the Maribel Garcia Community Spirit Fund
Get to know 2018 MGCSF Awardee Kelley Mark! Kelley sat down with us to answer some questions about her background, her future goals, and why she created Knit With Care. And don’t miss the adorable rainbow teddy bear she made for a member of the group!
KM: Knitting as a very powerful and positive tool for connection. I started Knit With Care because I saw that knitting was a skill that spans many generations, giving me something in common with many different people. I started knitting when I was six years old, and, as I grew older, wanted to use my skill to serve the Cornell University and #Ithaca communities. #KnitWithCare aims to help students connect to one another and get involved in great projects throughout the community. We want to help reduce feelings of isolation, anxiety, depression, etc. by participating in a restorative hobby as a group! We also encourage students to donate knitted goods back to the community!
MGCSF: Tell us something unexpected – positive or challenging – that you’ve encountered through your work.
KM: During the Spring of 2017, Knit With Care had been hosting a knitting group regularly at the The Cancer Resource Center, but it was a very small organization. I knew I would be graduating the next year and wanted to get younger members, so I officially registered as a club at Cornell and signed up for clubfest to recruit. I was hoping to get 2-3 freshman to join and keep growing my vision, and was absolutely blown away when we had over 100 sign-ups on our listserv. Then, when we held our first information session, we overflowed the room I reserved and had to go outside! I was inspired by how many people were interested in finding a community through knitting/crocheting, and want to grow Knit With Care beyond Cornell.
MGCSF: What are your goals/visions for the future?
KM: I believe any university could benefit from having a knitting community like Knit With Care. Many students deal with depression/anxiety/isolation, and while knitting is not in any way a cure, it can support positive mental health. Also, many students stop participating in the hobbies they had in high school because they do not feel productive doing them. The community service aspect of Knit With Care allows students to take time for themselves while also creating something to make an impact on the community. I want to bring Knit With Care to southern Virginia, where I will be living the coming year, but am also looking to try and make connections at other schools to start chapters!
MGCSF: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
KM: Knitting is incredibly rewarding! Try it! Spread it! Also, if you are interested in supporting Knit With Care or have any suggestions/connections for expanding I would love to hear from you! My email is Krm75@cornell.edu.
Thanks so much, Kelley! We’re so grateful for the good work you’re doing, and happy to have you as part of our #MaribelGarcia Community Spirit family!