Known as the Sewing Lady, LauraRose Paradis has been anything but sedentary since her retirement. Her boundless energy leads her to be a Thursday volunteer for Listening House and at other organizations that serve the homeless and disadvantaged.
LauraRose, a retired hospital chaplain who worked in the chemical and mental health unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital, discovered that sewing is a great compliment to her work as a spiritual guide. “My mom came from a long line of seamstresses,” she said. “I’ve been sewing since I was four.” Though she didn’t know how it would be received, she was inspired one day to take her sewing machine down to The Dorothy Day Center. As soon as she set up the machine, people came to her with ragged clothes and missing buttons, eager for her to give lessons. She uses sewing not only as a means of repairing goods, but also to teach and promote the self-esteem of guests.
She is very excited to bring her ministry to Listening House with our new location and enriched mission so she can get more people engaged and learning. “I hope people understand that this is a place for creativity and empowerment,” she said, “Because the more we teach somebody how to do something, the better they are going to feel about themselves. Then they think, now what else can I go out and do?”
LauraRose has big plans for creative opportunities at Listening House including giving new life to backpacks, belts, pants, and pajama bottoms; recycling old clothes and transform them into bags, or headbands.
I asked LauraRose how she came to be the Sewing Lady. Her motivation is living out a promise she made to her son who died from addiction: that she would make his life valuable. She does this in her efforts to connect with Listening House guests on a deeper level. “Addiction, mental illness, and ego shut us off, but spirituality allows us to connect with people,” she said. “I’m not just Christ-centered; I minister to everyone. I’m more spiritual and centered in a belief that we are all connected; that we are all one.”
If you want to help LauraRose with her mission at Listening House, please donate sewing kits, scrapbooking supplies, jacket zippers, envelopes, and stamps.