Sew Kind! Retired Teachers Send Dresses, Shorts To Brazil

Posted On April 08, 2014

Press release from Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association

Della Menchhofer (left) and Jean Vaughan display two of the many dresses that the Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association's award-winning Pillowcase Dress Project will send to impoverished Brazilians.

Della Menchhofer (left) and Jean Vaughan display two of the many dresses that the Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association’s award-winning Pillowcase Dress Project will send to impoverished Brazilian children.

(Dearborn County, Ind.) – The Dearborn County Retired Teachers recently sent sixty-five children’s dresses, ten mamma dresses, and twenty-seven pair of boys’ shorts to Brazil through Amazon Outreach, a non-denominational mission service group.

Jean Vaughan, Lawrenceburg, co-chair of the retired teachers’ state award-winning pillowcase dress project, recently met Della Menchhofer, Versailles, in Batesville to take the outfits to the four million people living along the Amazon River from Manaus to Parintins, Brazil.  Vaughan also shared the pillowcase dress pattern and offered lots of lace and notions for the mission project.

This year the team of fifteen to twenty mission volunteers will be working with the Smile Train, a group of doctors specializing in the cleft lip/ cleft palette.

Menchhofer has been going on the mission trip for the last seventeen years.  Originally urged to join by her former college roommate, she continues each year on the short term mission trip where she serves as a nurse to the medical team.  Taking only three outfits and the clothes she wears, she packs each of her two pieces of luggage with fifty pounds of clothes, flip flops, vitamins, and other over-the-counter medicines.

Menchhofer’s pride in the work of the mission is most evident when she talks of the man with the terribly ulcerated foot whom they were able to save.  She has worked with patients as young as seven days old.  Life expectancy in the jungle is fifty-six years of age.

People from the surrounding villages walk one hour to get to the medical boat on the river.  Then they wait in line for an hour to be seen by the doctor and another hour to receive their over-the-counter medicines.  Of course, it takes yet another hour to return home.

In addition to supplying the villages with clothing, the mission teaches Bible School lessons, builds wells for fresh water, leaves a little supply of gasoline for the occasional generator, and builds simple playgrounds for the children.

For additional information about the mission, contact Menchhofer at 812-689-5193.

The Dearborn County Retired Teachers pillowcase dress project started at Hamline Chapel when co-chair Gerri Barber brought the pillowcase dress pattern to the retired teachers’ coffee group so that they could begin making dresses for a mission trip to Haiti sponsored by the church.  Jean Vaughan’s step-daughter Jennifer Vaughan hand-delivered the first fifty dresses to the tent cities in Haiti.  She came back with the story of one dress which was shared by two mothers.  One mother would wear the dress to church one week while the second mother stayed home to babysit.  The next week the women traded places.  Upon hearing that story, the project developed and expanded so that over two thousand dresses have been made and distributed to villages in Haiti, Brazil, and Tanzania.  Each of the dresses have been hand-delivered so that the dresses arrive safely to the intended people.

The retired teachers continue to meet each Thursday at the Dearborn Adult Center where their materials and notions are kept.  The Adult Center graciously sets up/tears down each week for the retirees and provides ice for the seamstresses to keep their packed lunches.

Volunteers are needed to help cut out material, sew, decorate or otherwise help with the dress-making.  One does not need to be an accomplished seamstress to participate.  One woman with dementia was able to help with making the yo-yo’s used in the decoration of the dresses or the matching hair pieces for the girls’ hair.  For information about this project, contact Vaughan at 926-1978.