Daily Point of Light # 2993 Jul 26, 2005

The Lydia Project provides encouragement and spiritual support to women facing a cancer diagnosis in Augusta. When the diagnosis of cancer is made, the person often feels disconnected and different from those who do not have cancer. Friends do not know what to do or say to help. Often the woman becomes isolated for this reason and the fact she does not feel well. With the diagnosis of cancer, often there is no long-term solution, only hope in the present.

Through the Lydia Project cancer patients receive a tote bag which are created stitch-by-stitch by community volunteers and given free-of-charge to any woman currently undergoing cancer treatment. These unique totes are designed to be a visible sign of spiritual support and are made possible through community contributions of fabric, trim, monogramming and the talent of volunteer seamstresses. The tote is filled with practical items and carries the message of hope to those facing this devastating illness.

The Lydia Project gives women in the community a vehicle to donate their skills and time to help other women who have cancer. The volunteers use their skills to cut and sew tote bags for cancer victims and also spend time in the office organizing volunteers or speaking engagements. The sewing and monogramming can be done at home on the volunteers’ own time. The tote becomes a symbol of the love and hope these women are sending to these recipients they do not even know. They become connected by the fact the woman sewing the tote signs a card after she has made it and it and the recipient receives this card with her tote.

Cancer will probably always be with us. The need for totes only seems to increase as the word is spread about this project. It has been a little over a year since it officially organized and yet hundreds of lives have been touched.

The notes and cards received from the recipients is evidence enough of the impact of these bags. They take the tote with them wherever they go, especially treatment. It is like taking along your best friend or security blanket. It also is an avenue to open doors for conversation with others.

The popularity of hand made bags has certainly grown in the last couple of years. The idea of women making the bags for a cause is just an expansion on their creativity. These women love to use their hands to create, and anyone can be involved. The need for emotional support is great for women and their families facing a cancer diagnosis. Often their own feelings of hope and love can change the outcome in many different ways.

No woman involved in The Lydia Project, Inc. has received a salary including the Executive Director despite the many hours worked.