Franklin County artist Pat Richards and some of her friends have been making sleeping mats for the homeless in the community.
Richards said that she first learned about making the mats – crocheted from recycled plastic bags - from a post on Facebook and brought the idea to the Belvidere Family & Community Education (FCE) group.
From there, Pat Underwood and Joyce Adams expanded the effort from a monthly project to a weekly workshop in conjunction with Art Wednesday at the Artisan Depot Gallery in Cowan. The gallery is a part of the Franklin County Arts Guild and anyone may bring in a project to work on as a group.
Richards says that Adams significantly improved the process, making the mats more effective at keeping people dry. Between the two groups, Richards believes they have made at least 25 mats, which take “at least a couple of weeks” each to make.
The group during a reception for the “Selves” art show. Additional mats will be distributed to a homeless mission in Nashville by Harmony Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Winchester.
Each mat comes with a prayer and a piece of artwork done as a community project at the gallery.
When accepting the mats, Pope related a story of a man who had previously received one. Due to an illness, the man lost his job, then his home, and had been sleeping under a carport. During a period when Franklin County received 10 inches or rain, the plastic mat helped keep the man off the ground and dry.
Pope said that his church community was able to get the man started on disability and into an apartment.
Recently, the mat given to the man in Pope’s story was part of the Art Guild’s display at the Franklin County Business Expo.
“It was the most interesting thing in our booth,” Richards said, “lots of people wanted to know about it.”
For anyone who is interested in participating in this effort, Richards says that there are multiple ways to contribute. Everyone is welcome to come to Art Wednesday at the Artisan Depot in Cowan from 10 a.m. to noon to help crochet the mats. Those who do not know how to crochet may help by prepping bags or may learn from those in the group. Those who cannot attend may help by donating clean, dry plastic bags which would otherwise end up in a landfill.
It takes more than 100 plastic bags to create a single mat.
For more information, call Adams at 931-962-0280, call Journey Church at 931-691-2462 or search for Journey Church on Facebook.
To find out more about the Franklin County Arts Guild and its many community projects, visit www.franklincoarts.org.
For more information about the FCE club, which meets monthly at the Extension Office located on Joyce Lane in Winchester, call Pat Richards and leave a message at 931-691-1817 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stetson Snead can be reached via email at email@example.com