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You Made a Difference!

A few weeks ago I brought to your attention a charity that is dear to my heart, the Be The Difference Foundation. I asked you to sponsor me as a participant in the Be the Difference Wheel for Life Bike Rally.

And wow – how you rallied! Be the Difference received over $2000 in your donations for the Designs Magazine team so I rode my little heart out to show my appreciation for your donations. I talked my sweet husband, Pete Kutsopias, into joining me – and he gladly did, climbing out of bed on an early Sunday morning to get sweaty!  He was so moved by the spirit in the gymnasium and the encouraging survivor stories, he wrote a check for $250 right on the spot.  And he wasn’t alone, donations totaled $278,625 just short of the $300,000 goal.

Pete Kutsopias and Eileen Stretching for the Rally

So what does it take to pull off a charitable event with this magnitude? The bike rally is no simple undertaking. There were 100 bikes, 400 riders, taking hour-long spins through the 6-hour event. If the math isn’t working for you that’s because many riders committed to more than one hour! My friend, Mike Horowitz, sat on his bike for SIX hours! But he didn’t just sit – he cycled and cycled and cycled.  And with each stroke, he made a difference.

Helen Gardner, Gary Gardner, Eileen Roche and husband Pete Kutsopias

There are other ways to make a difference. You can support local cancer charities in your community by contributing to scarf drives, volunteering to drive chemo patients to therapy or stitching some hope into patients’ hearts.  Last week, we introduced a new collection of embroidery designs that convey that Fight and Hope message.  And, we’ve had widespread support from the entire sewing industry. Each machine company – Baby Lock, Bernina, Brother, Janome,  Viking, Pfaff and Singer – have ordered over a thousand of the design collections with 100% of net proceeds going to the Be the Difference Foundation.  The sewing industry is one of the most generous communities and I am proud to be part of it.

One of our favorite partners in the industry is, a division of Bernina. We love their professionally-digitized designs and newly-refashioned website. They bring decades of embroidery experience to every design they release so you can be confident in knowing your stitch out will be picture-perfect. And when they heard I was blogging about a charitable cause they pitched in a $100.00 gift certificate to the reader who shared their own charitable stitching experience with us.  So tell us if you ever participated in a community outreach program – what did you do? Why did you participate? Did you enjoy the experience?  We’ll pick a random winner next week.

For more information on the Be The Difference Foundation please visit their website or Like them on Facebook. Thank you for your support and thank you for truly making a difference.

Here’s your assignment this week:

Tell us if you ever participated in a community outreach program – what did you do? Why did you participate? Did you enjoy the experience?  We’ll pick a random winner next week and they will receive a $100 certificate for downloadable designs from

At, you’ll find embroidery designs with fun and exciting techniques. Our art comes from renowned licensed designers and from our own studio artists, the most talented in the industry. Digitized by experts with over fifty years’ combined experience, our designs will make your projects shine, spark your creativity, and inspire you to stitch more.

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Tell me what was your favorite project you created in 2012 and you could win an autographed copy of Machine Embroidery in 6 Easy Steps and the Sew with Nancy DVD.

And the winner is… “My favorite project from 2012 was a teddy Bear I made in the hoop. My daughter now 38 had a baby blanket she carried all the time even to college. It was literally in pieces !! mostly 4 x 5 inches .I had saved these saved in a plastic bag not sure what I was going to do with them. When my grandson was born I took these pieces and made a teddy bear using them for paw pads, belly,ears etc and minkie for the main parts .I am not a sewer but the in the hoop instructions were so easy . When I gave it to her and she realized what I had done , she cried ! Since he will most likely be my only grand child, it is a special gift !” – Dee D.

Congratulations Dee, what a nice gift and a clever way to recycle something with such sentimental value.




  • Diane Ogg

    Not sure if this qualifies. I own my own business making dentures. I feel it’s important that everyone should be able to smile; no matter their circumstances. I donated my time and materials to provide dentures/partials to the needy/homeless at a shelter. A smile can bring so much to a person and to their spirit.

  • eileenroche

    I agree, Diane, a shared smile is priceless. Kudos for using your talents to help others get a smile!

  • Jill Hicks

    I walked in Relay for Life because my sister has had breast cancer. She since has had a reoccurrence, now stage 4 in her bones. Anything we can do to help prevent or cure this devastating disease is a good thing.

    • eileenroche

      I feel for you and your sister, Jill. How we need to find a cure for this terrible disease…

  • Karen Poole

    Myself and my kids have participated in many charitable propjects. Years ago myemloyer used to gather teams to walk in the American “Heart Walk” which would benifet the American Heart association, so myself and my children would all sign up and do the 5 or 10k walk and get sponsers to pledge money to us and our team, we did this for many years. I then became disabled and could no longer walk in the 5 or 10k walks, so I would pledge for many people on the team including my kids who continued to do the walk. After I had to medically retire we no longer got information about the team but through a Quilt Guild I joined, I found a group that some of the Ladies had formed called “the Hat Ladies of Corona” that crochects or knits hats and scarves for cancer patients at quite a few c

  • Karen Poole

    My post did not get completed! The Hat ladies Group of Corona donates the hats we make to many cancer treatment centers, so I am now a part of this group. My oldest son now also participates in a 5 or 10k walk for Arthritus foundation and he joins a team through his employer, Walmart and since I cannot walk the 5 or 10k anymore I pledge money to his team. I have not sewed anything yet for charities but do crochet and also use a knitting loom to make hats and scarves for the Cancer patients and have made a few lap blankets as well. My family has been impacted by heart disease, Cancer and arthritus and I have always tried to teach my kids to give back, and sone of them still do!

    • eileenroche

      Karen, sounds like you’re setting a wonderful example to your family.

  • Karin

    So very long ago, when Tim McGraw was just starting his career, he was signed to play at the March of Dimes Chili Championship and Rubber Duck Regatta. Hubby & I volunteered to work at the event, selling T-shirts, in the hopes that we would be stationed somewhere near him & could enjoy the concert while we worked. Well, we were at the very opposite end of the park, so not only did we never see him, we never even heard him sing. But, we had fun, so we worked again the following year, I think we dispensed beer that year, and I honestly cannot remember who played. The following year, we were asked to chair a couple of committees…so we did. The next year (4th), my husband was asked to chair the event, and I was volunteered (yes, WAS volunteered) to manage the stage, backstage, awards, decide the talent and throw the pre-event party for the cooks, and their crews (about 800 people). And so we did…for the next 6 years, until we had to move out of state. Every year, the event and attendance grew, and so did the money we raised. And every bit of it went back to the March of Dimes for our area and state. It was a tremendous, year-round effort, but it was tremendously gratifying too. Our final year was the 24th annual event, and from what we understand, they’re still using our procedures manuals & processes today, 7 years later.

  • Susan J

    As an 11-year breast cancer survivor, I have proudly participated in “Walk for a Cure” events. I am also very proud of my husband who volunteers every tax season with the AARP Tax Aide program helping elderly and low-income taxpayers complete and file their tax forms.

    • eileenroche

      Eleven years? Three cheers for you Susan! I don’t many people know helpful tax volunteers are – very worthy endeavor.

  • marie zinno

    Way to Go Designs Magazine!! I wish i could have peddled along with you in person last weekend. We all can make a difference, and I think you have proved that.

  • Susan Burns

    In rememberance of my sister Martha who passed on several years ago from breast cancer I have participated in several “Quilt for a Cause” auctions in Tucson. They are having their third auction on March 2, 2013. You can Google this worthwhile charity to see all the great quilts, and read about contributions they have made to help women with gynecological cancers recieve care and support, as well as helping health care prodessionals recieve proper training and equiptment. They are a small group who have made a huge difference in our community. I have contributed quilts, bought quilts, and volunteered time helping hang the quilts for viewing prior to the auctions, as well as helping at the auctions.

  • Kelly Jackson

    Hi Eileen,
    Funny you should ask because 14 years ago I rode in a 100 mile bike ride for the Leukemia Society and it was in Las Vegas. I returned recently for the VDTA and was surprised by how much Vegas has changed.

    I participated because I had met a woman cycling that said she was training for the 100 mile bike ride to celebrate her 50th birthday. I was so inspired that I joined her for the training and the ride. We each raised 5,000 and finished the ride…even through those mountains…ouch.

    I did enjoy the ride and challenging myself. I’m going to be 50 next year….I think of that lady and her inspiration….wonder if I can do another 100 miles on my 50th birthday.

    I heard you speak at the VDTA and enjoyed every minute of your talk. I made a donation that night and encouraged everyone at the table to do so as well. I’m not shy when it comes to telling folks to donate to a great cause.

  • Kathy Meyer

    My husband and I are both cancer survivors. We have done Relay For Life for over 10 years to help find a cure!
    Maybe in our lifetime it will,happen.

  • Patty Sack

    My neighborhood sewing group made teddy bears with embroidered faces for our neighborhood fire and police departments to give to children involved in traumatic experiences. I don’t remember how many we actually made, but we a great time doing them!

  • Sue Winnie

    I have participated at the LQS making scarves for breast cancer survivors at our local hospital. I donated services for alterations for an evening out. Helped make quilts for local ambulances and quilts for the shop owner to bring to Dana Farber institute annually. It’s great to give

  • Donna G.

    I have participted in community outreach and charitable events! I’ve done the MS150 mile bike ride several years, volunteer to tutor low income students in reading and math, and contribute to Project Linus. Participation keeps me grounded in the community and is a way for me to pay back for my many blessings.

  • Nancy Drake

    Eileen I have been a 4-H leader for 43 years. I can not begin to list all the charities I have participate in with my 4-hers. This past year I personally made 60 hospital gowns for children (many with cancer). The gowns are made from cute material and each child gets to keep theirs. I do this project especially in memory of our beloved daughter who died of breast cancer at 30 (after a nearly 7 year battle).

    I am impressed with all the wonderful projects sewers have worked on with love.

  • Benie Webre

    Our entire family participated in an Alzheimer’s Memory Walk in honor of my dad and their beloved granfather. I’m not sure the greatgrands understood what as going on but they had a great time with their cousins. It was a very special time for the rest of us to celebrate the life of this very special man.

  • Pam M

    The junior school where I work gets really involved in raising funds for breast cancer research – one very popular staff member was a victim. All my prep boys (4-5 year olds) get right into the spirit of things – making and selling pink milkshakes, pink pancakes, pink balloons on pink sticks – anything that can be made pink and that a child of that age can help fix. My favourite memory is from a few years back when one tiny four year old with flaming red hair turned up at school in a bright pink t-shirt (always a risk on a redhead) emblazoned with “Tough Enough to Wear Pink”. We get right into Movember too – painting false mustaches on the boys, photographing them, and selling the photos back to the parents. I think kids are never too young to learn the lessons of charity, kindness, compassion and commitment to being involved.

  • judy williamson

    My mother had ovarian cancer and I’m sorry to say, she was not a survivor. Ovarian cancer is one of the most dangerous because you can have it and never know. Thank you for putting this out there so people can see and learn.

  • Nell Summerlin

    In November I participated in a fundraiser for a mother of four who has a very agressive form of leukemia. I made cosmetic bags with matching tissue holders, made and embroidered pencil and candy cane holders, embroidered Christmas Dish Towels and a few other things. I donated everything and all the proceeds. The fundraiser was a great success. The young lady, mother, wife, is waiting for a bone marrow transplant.

  • Mary Haggenmaker

    I’m 75+ with a bunch of health problems so I don’t actually participate so I donate. My husband passed with pancreatic cancer 5 years ago and I have a 47 year old daughter who beat breast cancer so I give to American Cancer Society and my 8 year old grandson was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 4 so anything for Juvenile Diabetes gets a donation. There is a 7 year old who is the daughter of a girl that grew up with my daughter who is presently fighting leukemia and I have participated in various fundraisers for her. I am now contemplating various sewing/quilting/crocheting projects that I might participate in between doctor visits.

  • Nancy Owens

    10 years ago, my precious 5 year old granddaughter was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. Since that time that association became our first choice for any donations. I remember one of the many events we participated in, a 5K walk, in Colorado Springs, Our whole family participated, aunts,uncles and cousins. Because I have Rheumatoid Arthritis I don’t walk well so I took my scooter. Unfortunately the battery gave out about 1/2 way through the walk. My sweet grandchildren pushed the scooter with me on it for about 100 yards to get me to a spot where Grandpa could pick me up. Then they went on to finish the 5K! Their dedication to their cousin has never wavered. She is now 16 and manages her disease quite well. We will always support the great organization that does so much for all children with this disease.

  • Vicky Isliefson

    Last year, I participated in Bears for Badges, sewing Teddy Bears for law enforcement and fire fighters to carry in their vehicles to have ready to give to a child in crisis. The event was organized jointly by our local extension agent and law enforcement members. It was set up in stations for cutting fabric, sewing, attaching eyes, turning, stuffing, hand finishing the opening and adding a ribbon bow. People from all over the Wichita community, including some kids out of school, participated from 8 am to midnight (in shifts). My friend an fellow ASG member was interviewed on the local news, with me sewing in the background!

  • Lyn

    My first sewing-related outreach was making tooth pillows for new babies in our community. A group of ladies at our church kept us organized. Some would embroider (by hand), others would construct, and others would deliver them to the new mammas in the hospital, along with a tiny Bible for the new baby.
    Another foray into sewing outreach was teaching basic sewing classes, first to some friends, then to others.

    Today, I assist with making the “pillowcase dresses” for African orphanages. I also assist outreach in our local community in a non-sewing way… cooking at our church’s soup-kitchen.

    There are so many ways to use your talents to help. You just have to look for the ones that best fit yours! Then it becomes fun and a true “labor of love”!

  • Donna

    Many years ago we were in need and were given a holiday food basket and I just want to pay it forward whenever I can. In the past I have crocheted baby blankets for our church to give to shelter families. I’ve sewn cancer pillows, and prayer shawls. My grandchildren and I have a quilt of volar in progress and I particpate at a quilt quild that donates 25-30 lap quilts a year to local charities.

  • Audrey

    In addition to donating blood many, many times I have participated in the annual community effort “Real Sense” which provides free income tax filing for lower income people. It was interesting and overwhelming to learn all the legal requirements through several all-day training sessions. However, great satisfaction came when I was able to assist individuals and families with the paperwork and in most cases they received refunds.

  • Berenice

    Wow, where to begin? I am the adult advisor for my daughters’ service organization. The girls participate monthly in local community service projects that range from beach clean-ups to packing books to be sent to troops overseas or schools in South Africa. They also raise money to be donated to the statewide service project. This year it is a facility that cares for endangered animals that have been raised as pets or have issues that other facilities can not handle. Past projects have included San Diego Adaptive Sports, Dogs for Diabetes, Kristie’s Place (a hospice for children), Bay Area Crisis Nursery (lots of homemade items went here!). Also at the annual convention, the girls have the opportunity to participate in a blood drive. A few years ago, over 200 women and girls had their hair cut and donated it to Locks of Love (I gave 22 inches!) It only takes a few hours every month to give some of our time to make a difference in our community and our state. The impact on the girls is incredible. They get to see smiles on faces of Veteran’s when we take them homemade cards to our local Veteran’s Home. They received a lengthy letter with many photos from the school in South Africa showing the library and shelving that the staff and students built to hold the books the girls helped pack. I hope the lessons they learn now will be carried throughout their lives.

  • Cy

    A few years ago while I was the “facilitator/instructor” for our church quilting group, we participated in our first “Project Linus” event. We had such a good time and donated about 22 quilts for the cause, which I thought was wonderful since many of the ladies had only been quilting for about 6 months. The best part was that one of our ladies won the sewing machine given away by the Janome sponser. “C” had no machine of her own and had been sewing on an old kenmore that was very heavy to carry to classes. Since she won the machine “C” has continued to quilt even while going through many medical events of her own. Our group has also donated many quilts to our local “Baptist Childrens Home”. It is always a joy to see the delight that the children exhibit when told that the quilt is theirs for ever.
    I also have made many pillowcases for Ronald McDonald house, the Million pillowcase Challenge and the Concor (not sure spelled right) Childrens cancer hospital. I am blessed to be able to give through my sewing.

  • Cheryl

    Well I love to quilt and have more than we can use so I donate them.
    Many people have auctions for cancer I find that to be a good cause.

  • Dottie

    Every year I participate in the March of Dimes Walk America. I’ve done this for 15 years or so-even before my little preemie grandson was born. Now participating has a more personal significance.

  • Doreen

    I have done several Relay for Life Walks as the caregiver for my friend and several Walk for the Cure walks.

  • Carolyn

    My most spiritually rewarding event in 2012 was attending a pillowcase ‘sew-in’. A local store held a sew-in creating pillowcases to be donated to the Children’s Hospital in St.Paul with half of the finished cases going to our local social services office. I not only attended one day of the ‘sew-in’ but I brought numerous kits home and finished several cases for the project. Over 300 pillowcases were completed, and it was exciting to go into the store, because during the weeks it was going on, the store fastened the pillowcases to clothes lines strung throughout the store. The many fabric combinations reinforced the concept that there are no wrong fabric choices.

  • Lisa Krupa

    My mother is a breast cancer survivor and a few years ago I participated in a local fundraising event for breast cancer awareness. Since I am a licensed cosmetologist, I purchased 500 Pink hair extentions for .99 cents each. We sold them at the event charging $5.00 each. We attached them to the heads of men, women, children and even a few pets. All the money brought in went to the local charity. It was wonderful to see so many people (and pets) walking around with bright pink extentions in their hair!

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