Maritime Division

Sheila Banks instructs Sewing Club member Chithra using the sewing machine

Volunteer, Sheila Banks Helped Create Inclusion and Community


Just over eight years ago after retiring from occupational therapy, Sheila was looking for meaningful volunteer opportunities that would be inclusive and accessible to all. With a passion for sewing, strong organizational skills and a background in adult education, Sheila decided to pitch the idea of creating a Sewing Club to The Salvation Army.

“The Salvation Army stepped up immediately as an enthusiastic host and welcomes us each week with its principles of caring, inclusiveness and community,” says Sheila. She adds, “We clarified guiding principles and got started with eight interested members, three donated sewing machines, a small amount of fabric, supplies, and storage containers.”

Reflecting on her decision to volunteer for The Salvation Army, Sheila says, “Having a life of privilege, always able to work, pay the bills, and raise children, I wanted to give back. She adds, “I found a niche that suited me and have certainly learned a lot from Club members; I didn’t realize how many new friends I would make.”

Initially offering informal sewing machine instruction to a small number of participants, Sheila’s vision led to more than 75 people – men included, coming to check out the Club. Children are also welcome with parental supervision. Members not only receive basic sewing instruction, they also build community and give back to a number of programs at the same time such as sewing curtains for The Salvation Army’s Scotian Glen camp.

Sheila says, “While retirement can mean a loss of social life and career, it can also mean a whole new freedom to draw on talents and skills that may have been set aside. I’m grateful that I’m not only giving back to my community through my skills, but together as a Club, we are learning from and supporting one another; we laugh and sometimes cry together.”

Sheila is one of The Salvation Army’s many valued and valuable volunteers. The Salvation Army would not be able to serve our communities so well without committed volunteers like her.

The Halifax Sewing Club meets throughout the year except during August. In July, some Moms and grandparents bring children along. For more information, contact the Spryfield Community Church & Family Resource Centre at 902-477-5393.


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