In this episode Jan Cancila and Jason Miles change hats with Jason serving as host and Jan sitting in the guest chair. Service projects is a topic near to Jan's heart and in this episode, Jan shares the fascinating back stories for several organizations that have chosen Sew Powerful as the beneficiary of their service project. You will learn about a new volunteer role that has just been filled to put greater emphasis on supporting and developing service projects along with the various resources we offer service project leaders. Lots of shout outs too, so listen for your name.
Blessed By Service Projects with Jan Cancila
IN THIS EPISODE
Service projects, examples, backstories, church groups, Star Wars fan group, Houston Quilt Festival, purse making, volunteers, university fashion design, third graders, service project starter kit
We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.
Sew Powerful Podcasts: https://www.sewpowerful.org/pages/sew-powerful-podcasts
- Eps 12: The Business Owner and the School Teacher with Theresa Dellaport and Vivian Sylvester
- Eps 16: Fashion Design Students Break Barriers with Sue Banman Sileci and Victoria Batista
- Eps 32: Texas Pin Pals on a Mission with Rose Turner
- Eps 38: Introduction to The East Los Angeles Stitchers with Gloria Molina
- Eps 56: Bountiful Blessings with Chris McMullen
- Eps 73: Meet a Star Wars Costume Maker with a Surprising Connection to Sew Powerful with Katherine Winchell
Sharman’s Sewing Center, https://www.sharmanssewingcenter.com/
Sew Special Quilts, https://www.sewspecialsa.com/
Star Wars Rebel Legion, https://rebellegion.com/
Olive Branch Fair Trade Shop and Missions, Wexford, PA, http://olivebranchwexford.org/
Service Project Starter Kit, https://www.sewpowerful.org/pages/spsk-request-form
ABOUT THE SEW POWERFUL PODCAST
The Sew Powerful Podcast shines a light on the people behind the mission to keep girls in school and create purposeful products in Zambia. Join us every week for a new 30-minute episode to meet new people, hear inspiring stories, and learn how you can join us in this global movement. Whether you sew or not, make purses or not, you will find something to enjoy in every episode. Listen today.
Host: Jason Miles
Guest: Jan Cancila
Jan Cancila, Guest 00:04
Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.
Jason Miles, Host 00:19
Welcome, everybody to the Sew Powerful podcast. I'm your guest host today, Jason Miles. And I'm interviewing our own Jan Cancila. How are you, Jan?
I am fine. I am so excited about our topic today. And I've had several people say that I should be the guest on the podcast. And they think I'm going to talk about me, but I'm not going to talk about me.
Okay, well, we got a big reveal coming up here. We're not going to talk about you and your, your background. But we're going to talk about a fun topic that you've led the way with. And that is service projects using the Sew Powerful purse as a service project in your community to make a difference locally, but also to help the girls in Africa. So, I know it's a topic that's near and dear to your heart. You want to tell us a little bit about what service projects are and how that whole thing came together?
Well, I guess this is a little about me. I have a background as a project manager and I sort of think of a service project in a similar way in that it's an existing organization or an individual who has a requirement such as a student who has to do community service type work for graduation requirements, who wants to do something of a charitable nature. And in our case, they select Sew Powerful. And it's time bound. That's the other part of it. It's not like ongoing. So, I have a start date. And I have a stop date. And I do other things; I might do other charitable things. But for this one instance, I'm going to support Sew Powerful. This is different than an individual purse maker who says, oh, I want to be of service. I think I'll do a service project. Well, we look at this a little differently. You would be a purse maker joining the hundreds and hundreds of other purse makers who make them when they have time. Sometimes they make them and it's a one time, you know, we might get three or four purchases from one person. That's it. Or usually what happens after you make one or two or three or four, you get hooked and you make more, but we're looking for individuals who are doing this with a timeframe and for a specific reason. And they've chosen Sew Powerful as the beneficiary.
Wow. Okay, so and it's just so fun to see these start to pop up and to come together. We haven't been doing this for too long formally. It's really kind of come together with resources and sort of a system and support for it under your leadership. So that's exciting to see. Can you tell us a little bit about maybe one or two that stand out in your mind and why they came maybe one of the early ones that you remember popping up and what it meant for you and, and them as they started it?
Well, one or two is going to be really hard for me.
That's Okay. That's alright. So start with one.
I'll start with one. Vivian Sylvester came to my attention. She is the coordinator of missions and more for her church in Pennsylvania. And the church has something called the Olive Branch Fair Trade Shop and Missions. And I know Vivian took a trip to Zambia in 2017 with you. And as part of her mission work for her church, she has chosen Sew Powerful and the Olive Branch Ministry has submitted well you know, back when I recorded this with Vivian a year plus ago, they had done over 1000 purses.
They must be over 1500 1800 by now. I would think if if not 2000.
Every month we open boxes. There's a nice couple packages from Olive Branch. Yeah, it's a huge, huge blessing. Yeah.
Well and the funny thing is the most prolific purse maker in the group is the lady named Flo who is in her nineties, and she makes the majority of the purses and Vivian says she doesn't want recognition. It's you know her personal ministry to do it.
And the purses are just beautiful and we're so honored that Olive Branch and that Vivian found us and and partnered with us, so it's just been a fantastic partnership.
Well I what I love about that is the fact that of course the impact in Zambia is obvious: the girls get you know purses and the supplies they need but the impact there locally for the ministry and for you know a local person like Flo who obviously has a heart for mission and a heart to see you know people's lives change and has a calling to serve, has an outlet for that service because of this. To me I love that part of it. That's true with individual purse makers that sit down at their sewing machine, but when a coordinator can make that reality for a group, it's just very special in my mind. So that's great. Other examples that come to mind? I know that you've got a long list. We just were talking about them earlier and you started rattle them off, and I was like, oh my goodness, there's so many amazing stories to talk about. Tell us about a few more if you want.
Well okay, and I want to say that if you want to look up the podcast with Vivian that was number 12. Number 16 was with Sue Badman Sileci. And Sue lives and works in Sao Paulo, Brazil. And she had connected with the university there whose name I could not pronounce in a million years. But the fashion design students there chose Sew Powerful purses as that creativity outlet for the students. And it's just been very rewarding. And the fashion students recruited others from throughout the university to help them make the purses and they send them in. There's probably one big shipment that comes in once a year from them. So that's great.
I love that example. When we first heard about that, and Sue mentioned it that she was teaching the girls there, you know how to do the purses, and they sent photos and stuff. It was just so exciting to hear that, you know, a university group, the girls are excited about it. They're really passionate about it. And so, I love that story. Okay, great. All right,
Well and there's an even funnier part is that the connection was made in a dog park. Sue was with her dog in a dog park and met the instructor who had her dog in the dog park. And the rest is history.
So that's awesome.
Always an interesting story. Number 32 was a podcast I did with Rose Turner, who was the coordinator of a group near the Dallas Fort Worth area called the Texas Pin Pals. And they're a charitable group. And they adopted Sew Powerful, and they sent us 50 purses. So that was a great one. And this one was a surprise to us. There's a woman named Gloria Molina. And if you live in California, you probably know her name because she's very active and in elected office in California. She's even served in the White House under a couple of presidents. But after she retired from her public life, she established TELAS, which is The East Los Angeles Stitchers. And Gloria is a prolific quilt maker, and she put all these women together. And at the Houston quilt festival, one of the people that came with Gloria learned about Sew Powerful, took the information back and the group decided to make purses. And we didn't even know about any of this until 200 purses arrived from The East Los Angeles Stitchers. And the more we investigated, the more interesting it was. So, they're a group that focuses on preserving the Latino culture through the needle arts. And so, they did the service project. But what was cool was that individual members loved doing it so much, they sort of formed their Friday night branch, and they would meet by Zoom and drink wine and make purses. Maybe talk about purses, I don't know how much sewing was going on. But you know, they sort of formed a little spin off as a result. So that was so cool.
That is really, really awesome. I love that one. I hadn't heard that whole backstory, um, as it relates to that group. So, wow. Yeah, very cool. Okay, what else you got any others you want to mention?
Well yeah, and I...
Go as long as you want here.
Okay, so number 56 is a recording I did with Chris McMullen. And I want to make an announcement here. So, Chris McMullen has served as the Regional Coordinator for Missouri. She's based in Kansas City. And last spring, she came across a nonprofit organization in Kansas City called The Sewing Lab. And the idea of The Sewing Lab is to teach a sewing skill to immigrant women who have come to the United States. And I was like, well, wow, they're indigent, they don't have a skill, they need a job, they're learning to sew. I'm like, wow, that's such a parallel to the sewing co-op that we have in Zambia. So Chris got involved with them. And she's actually taught a couple of classes there. And there's a fabric exchange and people just go there and make purses because maybe they don't own a sewing machine or have access to fabric. And so, The Sewing Lab has sent several boxes of purses to us. But
Chris has just accepted a new role with Sew Powerful and effective at the beginning of this year, she became the Service Project Manager. So, Chris
is going to become the contact, the encourager for people who are doing service projects, but she's also going to reach out to national and regional organizations and explain Sew Powerful to them, so that they can encourage their local membership to support Sew Powerful as as service project, so.
Wow, man, that's really really cool. So, we're beefing up the the systems and the team and everything to support the service projects. Tell us about one that came up in the Sew Powerful Live we did yesterday. Dana didn't know about it, but it was the Rebel Legion or Rebel Alliance?
Rebel Legion Legion Outpost, actually from Australia. So, this was podcast number 73. This is probably the most surprising podcast that I ever did. So, Julie Winchell is the chapter leader for the Sew Sisters of Northwest Washington. She's based in Arlington, Washington. And her daughter, Katherine is a costume maker for Star Wars events. So, these costumes are very detailed. And I mean, Katherine is an excellent seamstress, and she has a lot of leadership skills. So, she's organizing all these things. And they had a big event in the Fall, and as a service project tied in with this event, they encouraged all their local groups, which we would call chapters they call outposts because it, you know, mirrors the Star Wars world,
But they encourage them to make purses. And the cool thing is, these people all sew because they make costumes. So last week at the Sew Powerful live event, here comes a big box of purses from the Rebel Legion Outpost in Australia.
No, it was from Mos Eisely. Which is a joke because that's the Star Wars city.
Oh, oh, oh, okay.
And Dana kept saying it: Mos Eisley.
But it was from Australia.
Yes, it was it was
Okay. Yes. I'm not a Star Wars person, so I didn't get that joke.
So yeah, yeah. No, that was so awesome.
But I have to tell you one more cool thing. So, when I'm interviewing Katherine, I'm interviewing her about all this. And I just as an aside, it just popped into my head, I said, so what is your day job? What do you do when you're not, you know, doing all this work for Star Wars? She operates the cameras on the rovers on Mars. So,
Yes, so she has like the most out of this world job I've ever hear of.
So anyway, that was that was very cool. So yeah,
Well, your list of service projects, I think goes on and on quite a bit. And it's so exciting to hear about these, I want to hear more. But I also want to just encourage anyone who's listening that if you are piqued in your curiosity or interest about how service projects might work for you, we do have the resources on the website. Right. So, in the menu structure,
Yeah, it's under Serve With Us and then Service Project.
There you go. And so, you've got resources there for them and, and the whole nine yards. Well, do you want to mention the others that are top of mind or
Yeah, and let me talk a little bit about that Service Project Starter Kit.
When you go to the Serve With Us and Service Project, you fill out a quick form. And by return email, or right there on the screen, you get a link to our Service Project Starter Kit. It's an eight-page booklet that has all kinds of information about Sew Powerful, but it has links to videos and other resources. But it also has a step-by-step guide for getting your service project off the ground. And so, we want everybody who might be interested to feel free to, to request the booklet, take a look and see if that's something that your organization would like to do.
Oh, I love that. Okay, so let me just ask you, before we tell a final story or two, what are the types of scenarios in which this makes sense? Like you mentioned a university, you know, group of students, the Rebel Legion, which is a costume Star Wars fan group, you mentioned the Olive Branch Missions, which is a missions department in a church. What else just in terms of broad context, do you think makes sense for people or what have you seen people doing these for or from?
Well, I mean, we just had a Girl Scout troop ask for the starter kit. We've had lots of church groups, the women's sewing guild within a church. And you know, sort of a funny one is our Savior Lutheran Church, and I thought it was one church. Well, I guess that's a popular name for a Lutheran church and there is the Grand Forks, Minnesota church that's done 150 purses for us, and the St. Charles, Missouri church that did 90. So, church groups, the women's guild there in the church, youth groups. We had an outside organization come to a high school and get volunteers and then I'm going to tell you a little story about my third-grade service project girl, so
Oh Okay, yeah, let's.
Well, I want to back up because, you know, at that same Houston Quilt Festival, where The East Los Angeles Stitchers found us, we also made a contact with some high-level people at Baby Lock, and that resulted in Baby Lock asking their dealers to support [Sew Powerful purse making] sew days during the fourth quarter of 2019. And that's resulted in many ongoing blessings to us. And there's just two quick ones that I want to mention. One is Sharman's Sewing Center. They're in East Texas, and they have produced over 200 purses. And every few months, they just send in a big box of purses. And they have sew days and customers make them at home. They collect them for us. And so, they've been an ongoing blessing for us from this chance encounter that happened in 2018 and here we are four years later. One of the other Baby Lock dealerships that participated in sew days was one in Katy, Texas, which is just outside of Houston, not too far from my home, and I actually visited with them and conducted a sew day. But they've continued to send purses to us, but I put a little flyer up on their bulletin board back in December of 2019. And fortunately, nobody has taken it down. So, there's the cutest little gal named Lucy, who is in the third grade in a school in Katy, Texas. And she volunteered for an after-school program called Read, Deed and Run. So, she's agreed to read 26 books, run 26.2 miles,now this is over the course of a year, and then do 26 hours of some kind of service project. And her mom was shopping at the Sew Special Quilt store in Katy, Texas, saw the flyer on the bulletin board a year and a half after I put it up there and said, I think my daughter, Lucy could make purses for Sew Powerful as part of Read, Deed and Run. So, Lucy, with her mom's help, made five purses, and she has sent them into us. But the other cool thing was as her mom learned more and more about Sew Powerful to help her daughter, her mom took this idea to her Quilt Guild, and now they've chosen Sew Powerful as a service project.
Wow, that is really, really cool. So, from third graders to 90-year-olds, we've got people participating in the service projects. Well, this is really, really exciting. Jan, do you just give us a final encouragement for anybody who's considering it or thinking about it?
Sure. Check out our website and you can look under Serve With Us and Service Projects, get the the starter kit. You can also contact Chris McMullan, her email is Christine CHRISTINEM@sewpowerful.org. And just think about it, pray about it, get started and make some purses and send them in. And I think so many of these organizations took it on as a one-time project. And then it's spun off into inspiration for individuals who have continued.
Yeah, wonderful. Well, thank you so much for allowing me to be the guest host today, and interview you. And if you're listening to this podcast on any player of choice, of course, we'd love your subscription to that, hit subscribe, or like, do whatever you can give us the heart, or the thumbs up, whatever the tool lets you do, wherever you're listening. And we're really grateful for any reviews you might leave. And for your support for the show. Every person that you talk to the show about or you share it with, can learn more about the program and grow in their own relationship with us. And that's of course, really, really helpful. So, Jan, thank you again so much for being our guest today and the show. And we'll see you on the next podcast.
All right, thank you. Bye bye.
If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at www.sewpowerful.org That's SEWPOWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization, is where you can download the free purse patterns, or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.
ABOUT THE HOST
Jan Cancila has been making purses for Sew Powerful since 2014. She serves the organization as Director, Global Volunteerism, the Area Manager for Shows and Events-Mid/South USA and as the Houston Regional Coordinator. She was a public speaking major at Hanover College and holds an MBA from Our Lady of the Lake University. Jan had a 25-year career with The Coca-Cola Company before owning and operating a linen and party rental business in Houston. She is married with two grown sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and two remarkable granddaughters. Jan’s published work includes more than 100 online articles for Examiner.com. Reach Jan with comments or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.