SHELLEY SCHUETT DOESN'T LET BLINDNESS SLOW HER DOWN
By Dan Jensen - The Camrose Booster
Having difficulty with your vision doesn't mean you can't still be productive and a contributing member of society.
Just ask Shelley Schuett.
Blind since birth, Schuett is an active member of Blankets for Canada Society Inc., a non-profit registered charity devoted to creating blankets for those Canadians who need the warmth they provide.
"I have been an active member of the society since October, 1993," said Schuett, "over which time I have made enough blocks, strips and blankets to add up to 89 completed blankets."
Schuett first learned about Blankets for Canada Society Inc.when she was surfing the Internet, looking for something she could do at home. "Knitting has always been a passion of mine, and I wanted to do something productive with it," she said. "I had already knitted all the sweaters, scarves, hats and doll clothes that I needed."
Schuett is able to produce one blanket block every 45 minutes. "A full blanket needs 48 blocks, which is a number I can produce in 36 hours," said Schuett. The blocks don't normally take the shape of a blanket until Schuett takes them to Blankets for Canada Society Inc. bee days, which are held in a church in Edmonton every second Saturday of each month. It is there that each of the individual pieces are crocheted together. "
The meetings are a time for gathering together what people have done, as well as socializing with others who share your interests," said Schuett. "I have seen anywhere from 35 to 101 blankets received on these blanket bee days. A fun time is had by all."
In 2005, Blankets for Society Canada volunteers and members from the Edmonton area alone made 1,366 blankets for organizations such as men's and women's shelters, Red Cross and Salvation Army.
All blankets made in the Edmonton area stay in the Edmonton area.
"We're looking at adding the Camrose Women's Shelter (Brigantia Place) to our list of recipients," said Schuett.
Schuett feels that persons who are blind or who have vision difficulties are able to do anything to which they put their minds. "We can do everything a sighted person can as long as adaptations are made," she said. "The hard thing is trying to tell that to potential employers. "It's hard to find an employer who is willing to give persons with a disability a chance to prove what they can do."
Schuett has been a member of the Camrose Visually Impaired Persons organization, which provides support to those with blindness, since the first day it was formed. "The people there have been pretty impressed with the work that I do," she said, adding that she has shown samples of baby blankets made with the braille alphabet. "I guess in some ways I am a role model to the people who have lost their sight because I try to stay active."
Blankets for Canada has chapters in Lethbridge, Calgary, Drumheller and Edmonton.
Anyone wishing to find out more about the organization, or to volunteer his or her services, is encouraged to visit the website at www.blankets4canada.ca, or contact either Eileen Liddle, Edmonton Chapter leader, at 780-475-1262, or Schuett at 672-0731.
Donated yarn, fabrics or blocks may be dropped off at Quilting from the Heart.
photo cutline: Shelley Schuett was taught how to knit by her grandmother.