Blind woman learns to crochet at SK’s Givens Center
By KAITLIN STROHSCHEIN
Port Orchard Independent Reporter
April 7, 2011 · Updated 1:01 PM
Laura Early, vice president of Port Orchard’s Friends of the Givens Senior Center, estimates she’s taught hundreds of people to knit and crochet since she started as a teenager.
Only one, however, was blind.
“She just came to me asking for help,” said Early of 56-year-old Beverly Lewis, of Silverdale. “I have no idea how she came to seek me out, but she did.”
Lewis learned by holding Early’s hands as she slowly taught her several different crochet stitches.
“I’m a hard learner,” Lewis laughed. “I am. But once I learn, I got it.”
Lewis spent a year on her first project, a queen-sized blanket for her pastor, Rev. Frankie L. Coleman, who leads a congregation at Sinclair Missionary Baptist Church in Bremerton.
“I’m so proud of that blanket,” she said, “because I did it and (God) can use it.”
Lewis believes the Holy Spirit led her to choose the right colors for the blanket — black and gold.
“I had no idea (Coleman’s) favorite team is the New Orleans Saints, and that’s the colors I made the blanket,” she said. “Black and gold.”
When the project was finished in March she presented it to Coleman in front of the congregation, which was an emotional experience, she said.
But Lewis has no plans to stop crocheting now that she’s finished the blanket.
“I want to make lap blankets and scarves for the homeless shelter at the church,” she said.
That level of dedication and perseverance for her church is characteristic of Lewis, said Coleman.
“She’s been one of the most respectable, honorable people we have,” he said. “She doesn’t allow her handicap to stop her from achieving her goal. She remains focused.”
Lewis chose to throw that dedication into crocheting for several reasons.
“I wanted to stop smoking, so I needed to do something with my hands,” she said.
Crocheting seemed like a logical choice, because it’s something she’d wanted to learn since she was a little girl, when she could see.
When she was 14 years old, she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, which slowly stole her vision.
She has been blind for 23 years now.
“I went into a depression for so many years,” she said, and it’s “only by God’s grace and mercy” that she maintains a positive attitude now.
“I thank Him every day, 24/7,” Lewis said.
Maintaining friendships with positive people also helps her stay happy, and she considers her knitting and crocheting group at the Givens Senior Center to be some great friends.
“They crack jokes, they tell good stories,” Lewis said. “They’re very cheerful.”
And she said, she really appreciates people who don’t treat her unusually because she’s blind.
That’s a quality she really appreciates about Coleman, she said.
“He never did look over me,” she said. “He treated me like he treats everybody else. He didn’t put a label on me.”
Lewis also offered a piece of advice to people with disabilities.
“Don’t give up, because you can do it,” she said. “You can do it.”