There’s a photo in Olga “Dolly” Swanson’s room at Brightondale, a SilverCrest property, where she is a resident, of many children wearing colorful hats that she knitted. They aren’t her grandchildren or even people she knows well but Dolly knew there was a need for her warm knit hats and fifteen years ago she started knitting for anyone who needed them. This photo was a way to thank her for her generosity.
At 86, Dolly’s passion for helping others is stronger than ever. Why hats? Dolly has dementia and during the last couple of years it’s been harder for her to remember elaborate patterns. “She used to knit beautiful sweaters and would rehab Barbie dolls,” said Betty Kroll, Dolly’s daughter. “Now, she can only remember the patterns for hats.”
Even more amazing is that despite memory issues, Dolly continues to knit. And the people who wear her hats aren’t complaining they are grateful and inspired by her ability to give back while doing something she loves. “It’s her purpose, knitting makes her feel useful,” said Kroll. Once finished, the Lifesprk team identifies where there is a need for Dolly’s hats and makes sure they are delivered. Organizations like Minnesota Crisis Nursery, Mounds view/New Brighton School district, church stores and Social Concerns Network are just a few of the places who have benefited from Dolly’s gift.
The Lifesprk Experience is about discovering people’s passions and building creative pathways that enable people to live life with meaning and purpose, what Lifesprk calls a ‘sparked life.’ Dolly’s Life Care Manager (LCM), Leslie Geving, knew Dolly’s passion was knitting; in fact, it was difficult to miss because she was hard at work knitting all the time. According to Geving, about two years ago, Lifesprk donated yarn to help Dolly continue knitting her hats and keep the spark going. Meanwhile in her role as LCM, Geving proactively works to address any issues that might get in the way of Dolly’s ability to do what she loves most. Dolly’s yarn supply is getting low and Lifesprk is back at it again. With a company-wide campaign in motion, Lifesprk is asking employees to ask others tohelp Dolly continue her purposeful work by donating yarn. To change the experience for people, we need to meet them where they are and keep them on the path for living a life that ignites their passion. Dolly has dementia, yes, but with Lifesprk and SilverCrest support she’s also helping people with her gift of knitting. She’s sparking lives. How are you sparking lives?