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Buffalo Strong: Stitch shop collecting sewing machine donations to help support and uplift Afghani refugee women settle into WNY

Stitch Buffalo
Posted at 6:07 PM, Apr 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-04 18:24:53-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Calling all homemakers and textile artists!

A Western New York shop, created to empower women who are immigrants and refugees, is hoping the community can help in its next mission.

"You see beautiful creations that just bring you joy," Stitch Buffalo volunteer, Marie Pacheco told Pheben Kassahun Monday afternoon.

On Buffalo's West Side, sits an inclusive space filled with handcrafted goods.

The textile art sits on the walls, shelves and windows of Stitch Buffalo, all thanks to donors in the community.

"I think Stitch Buffalo is a strong force in the community. It's created a lot of opportunities for refugee women, who you can see their pride when you see their completed work to cell at the store," Pacheco said.

For the last eight years, the shop has had the goal of empowering refugee and immigrant women to become self-sufficient. In order for Stitch Buffalo to continue its buffalo strong mission, those who run the shop are asking for a little help from the City of Good Neighbors.

Stitch Buffalo executive director, Dawne Hoeg said, "Currently, we have a large population of Afghani refugees being resettled here, in Buffalo. Many of those women know how to sew and they do not have the tools that are required for them to do this. Stitch Buffalo is doing a sewing machine drive to help support and uplift the women."

The sewing machines will provide clothing and home decor for women just getting settled, in Western New York.

Hoeg said, "Many Afghani women stay home and take care of the home and take care of the children. They have the skills to be able to make things from their home."

The shop is looking to collect 50 sewing machines from community members, and Hoeg said they will handle the rest!

"The sewing machine will provide, first clothing and home decor. As they get settled, they have the opportunity to sell here at Stitch Buffalo. We're also working with Nest and Etsy with an Uplift Makers program for Afghani women and makers to be able to setup their own Etsy shop," Hoeg said. "Having a tool that you know how to use. It's the same idea as giving a person a fishing pole to fish to get their own food, instead of giving them their own food. So, you're teaching them that they have the skills to uplift themselves."

"They have been able to move out of their initial residences, being able to make a living and earn and progress in the community, and become basically and independent contributors to the community in Buffalo," Pacheco added.

How to Help:

  • Anyone with a sewing machine gathering dust in the back of their closet, can send an email to the shop at info@stitchbuffalo.org.
  • Arrangements will be made to drop off sewing machines.
  • Home sewing machines and table top sewing machines are ideal, but not the cabinet ones, due to limited space at the shop.
  • The shop wants to emphasize that it will only accept working sewing machines.