OVMC's Blossom Twig Still Going Strong After Nearly 90 Years

Friday, October 2, 2009

WHEELING—Before the GreatDepression and World War II, a small group of dedicated women from Wellsburgwas touching the lives of countless hospital patients that they would nevermeet. Those ladies, members of the OVMC Blossom Twig, began a legacy that isstill continued today.

Although their numbers havediminished and their projects have changed as medicine has modernized, a smallgroup of ladies continues the tradition of volunteerism in their own specialand unique way.

The Blossom Twig officiallyformed on March 22, 1921 when the group gathered in Wellsburg for the firsttime to support what was then Ohio Valley General Hospital in Wheeling. Inthose early days, the group would sew a variety of much-needed items, includingpatient gowns, surgical draping, wheelchair bags, work aprons and doctor caps.

"We have records that indicatethat in 1925, the Blossom Twig donated more than 1,100 pieces of work to thehospital," said Mary Velez, Director of Volunteers at OVMC. "In that year, wehad more than 300 women representing 25 sewing twigs who donated their time tomake items that could be used by patients and doctors."

The Blossom Twig is one of thefew sewing twigs that has continued that tradition. Like their predecessors,they continue to meet monthly at the home of a member, but in those earlyyears, the hostess would prepare a delicious lunch that everyone would enjoyafter finishing their work. In a clear sign of the change of times, the ladiesnow have lunch out on the town after completing their projects.

"It's just much more fun notto worry about the cooking," member Connie Waugh commented. Waugh is consideredthe ‘matriarch' of the group, having been a member since 1961.

They still use the same‘featherweights' sewing machines from nearly 90 years ago, although today theyare considered antiques and are quite valuable. Replacement parts that wereonce a few pennies now are hundreds of dollars.

Over the years the BlossomTwig has received numerous accolades for their dedication to OVMC. They proudlydisplay newspaper clippings from 1979 when they were the first recipients ofthe "Golden Thimble Award" which was presented to the twig with the mostcredits for sewing. They completed nearly 2,000 pieces that year.

Current members include Waugh,Judith Cipoletti , Cathy Cipoletti, Gerry Beall and Cynthia Harvey.