On Friday, Gale and I met up at Daniel Webster College in Nashua, New Hampshire. We went to meet two OFA students - one attends Daniel Webster, another Plymouth State. Our mission was to conduct a publicity photo shoot for the Red Scarf Project. Nashua was chosen as a location because it is approximately equidistant between our homes.
Of course the photo shoot was slightly "set up," but we wanted to make it as authentic as possible. We wanted to have actual OFA care packages and actual scarves that were knit for the project, and actual OFA recipients to appear in the photos. The OFA located two students who were willing to take part, and Gale and I headed out on one of this winter's coldest days. It was brutally cold, so none of our photos could be taken outside, though Gale and I did brave the cold for a few minutes to snap photos of the scarves that were sent to us by the OFA on a bench outside the student center there at DWC.
I was excited when we unpacked the packages to find that one of Cookie's was included. I loved seeing her scarf as simply someone I "know," but also because she has been such a good supporter of the project. Her scarf is the Irish Hiking Scarf lying on the top of the pile there in those photos.
I had brought along Sandy's, which is there in the center of the photo, quite covered up with other scarves, and my infamous stolen-from-the-necks-of-the-orphans scarf, and my own Noro one, just for props. Kim sent hers to me via Express Mail, but the U.S. Postal service let us down and never delivered it until Saturday, after I had returned from the trip.
It was a hoot to hear the frank and open reactions of our sampling of two students as to which scarves they loved and which scarves they ...uh....loved less. Turns out I need not feel bad about keeping the "stolen" scarf at all, since indeed the dye lots don't match. And my lovely Noro scarf is not lovely to all who see it. Two out of two people found it to be....weird. It's funny, that. I love that scarf and love wearing it, but I have never been complimented on it by anyone except other knitters. So now maybe I know why.
The Besotted scarf on the far right, which is a gorgeous soft acrylic (it fooled both Gale and me that it was acrylic -- it's lovely!) knit by someone in Maine (I can't remember the name) was a favorite of one of the girls, and the pink one with heart motifs was adored by the other girl. When I say "adored," I do mean adored. She said this one HAS to be hers, and she is going to keep it -- and even the tag attached to it -- for her whole life, and hopes to give it to her own daughter someday. Gale and I both had tears in our eyes when listening and watching her covet that thing so. We are going to work hard to make sure she does get that one in her real care package.
Guess what was the other favorite. Go on, I dare you.
Yep, the Fun Fur one. Of course, as I say, this was only a sampling of two people, and people's tastes will run the gamut, so I say keep on knitting what we like, and we will all hope that the right scarves will land in the right hands.
Enough about the scarves. Now I want to talk about the students we met. Some adjectives that come to mind are: Vivacious, confident, bright, happy, humorous, focused, well-spoken, mature, ambitious, appreciative, pragmatic, worldly, and yet still innocent. You can read a little about the individuals (these are pdfs) here and here.
My husband accompanied me on this trip as my chauffeur, and we both came away thinking, "Wow." These are people you want to be around, and you think, "If I had one-third their character, I'd be doing well." We left the afternoon stunned and thrilled and with our faith in youth and humanity restored and rejuvenated.
One girl is 18. She worked 40 hours a week through high school and also took advanced-placement classes. When I asked her what she thinks about the OFA, she said, "They're the best! They are helping me realize my dream of attaining my bachelor's degree in two years." (Did you get that? TWO YEARS.)
She has an apartment, commutes to school, has two part-time jobs and a work-study job at college, in addition to being a member of a sorority and a student ambassador - all this in her first year of college. When Gale and I were braving the freezing temps to take the outdoor scarf pictures, this girl told my husband that she plans to then go for her master's, because in her chosen field (marketing), a bachelor's is not good enough today. All this wisdom from the mouth of an 18-year-old pink-scarf lover.
There was something in my eye when I listened to the two of them "reminiscing" about how much easier life was "back when we were teenagers." All the bills were paid then. Now they have to fend for themselves. Yes, something was definitely in my eye -- a speck of dirt or something.
The other girl is a spokesperson for Casey Family Services. She goes around and gives speeches about that organization, and she spoke just as highly about the OFA, the scholarships it gives, and the care package program. She is planning to be a social worker, because she sees it as her way of giving back for all that she has been given through the field. She wisely sees how valuable an experience it will have been for a social worker to have gone through the system. So savvy was she that when speaking about it and answering my questions about what I was hearing as "K-C" (there's that old court reporter thing going on again), she explained to me about the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which name of course I immediately recognized, and she quickly said, "There is a division in Vermont." Most young people I know would not have even heard or cared when we said during introductions that we had come down from Vermont. This girl is remarkable and gifted.
These are the kinds of people we've been knitting for. Feel good? I do.
My camera was acting temperamental on this trip, so it's a good thing we had a pro along with us. Gale's photos will be up soon, but in the meantime, here are a couple bad ones to whet your appetite.