Arts & crafts forge friendships at Jennie Lane Apartments
Rosa Ruiz has loved crafts since she was a girl, and she’s more than willing to share the talent she’s honed over the years.
And her neighbors at Springfield Housing Authority’s Jennie Lane Apartments, where she’s lived the past three years, are glad for that.
Every Wednesday afternoon, Ruiz opens up shop in the Community Room, lining up materials like Popsicle sticks, cardboard, paper, straw, Q-tips, soda bottles, sand, paint, glue and more, to be transformed into an array of colorful and sometimes handy items.
Her club members then get to work, building fans, birdhouses, flowerpots, miniature houses and other decorative pieces. Sometimes, the lively sessions last into the evenings, filling the room with the sounds of industry and friendship.
“I like to make things using bits of scrap and things that a lot of people just throw out,” Ruiz said. “And I like to show other people how to make things. It’s fun and you end up helping each other, and making something that you can take home with you.”
Ruiz has also found a more altruistic reason for the crafts sessions.
“God gave me this gift, and I want to pass it along and to share the ideas that I come up with. It helps people mentally, to relax and to focus. You can see by the way people work and talk together that it’s good for everyone,” she explained.
Her loyal students agree wholeheartedly.
“Everyone loves it,” said Jessica Quiñonez, who is a devotee of Ruiz and also the president of the Jennie Lane Tenants’ Association.
“We have a lot of fun together, and making things really takes your mind off of everything else. One night we stayed here until 9 o’clock, we were so busy making things. Rosa always comes in with new ideas, which everyone loves.”
Minerva Garcia said she wouldn’t miss a session with Rosa.
“I like it because I get distracted and I just relax with it,” Garcia said. “I can work with my hands. It’s really freeing.”
Ditto Luis DeJesus, who especially loves his role as the only man in the group on a regular basis.
“It’s relaxing and entertaining,” DeJesus said. “We’re all friends now, and that’s because we come here together every week and work on making things.”
He added with a smile, “Plus that, as the only man I hear lots of things.”
Like the other regulars, Iris Mercado enjoys working with her hands, along with the camaraderie that results.
“I love to do this,” she said. “I’m someone who loves crafts anyway. I’m a knitter. I’m in my house a lot, so this gets me out with other people every week.”
Ruiz said she will always be thankful to her mother, a crafts person in her own right who taught her daughter at a young age how to use old things to make new things.
“Everything I know, I learned from my mother,” she said. “But I can always come up with new ideas.”
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