When members of the Prayer Shawl Ministry of LaPorte Catholic Church learned about Franciscan Health Michigan City’s Center of Hope, they found the perfect beneficiary for the work of their knitting needles.

Franciscan Health’s Centers of Hope are designated spaces where victims are given one-on-one trauma care by SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) nurses trained to handle sexual assault cases. In many cases, clothes and undergarments must be taken for the forensic kit from patients who are coping with a traumatic attack. The center’s emergency clothing closet provides replacement clothing, undergarments and even blankets, toiletries and snacks for these patients.

Prayer Shawl Ministry members Valerie Young, Patty Steele and Donna Larson delivered about 60 prayer shawls and blankets last month to Franciscan Health Michigan City. Young said she thought the shawls would be “a comfort,” but learned even more during the visit.

“We didn’t know there was such a need. We didn’t know about the human trafficking. That was an education to us,” she said. Along with treating sexual abuse victims, SANE nurses are trained to detect victims of human trafficking, an issue in Northwest Indiana that often falls below the radar.

Michigan City SANE nurse Michelle Runions, RN, explained the difference that donations to the Center of Hope can make for victims. “I had a young mother that was a victim of attempted murder. She was brought in by police distraught, no personal belongings. While I was taking care of her, I found out that all her belongings including her purse, phone and car keys were detained at the crime scene as evidence. I was so thankful that our hospital is proactive with our community closet. My patient was able to receive new clothing and toiletries to freshen up with.”

The Prayer Shawl Ministry, which encompasses the three parishes in LaPorte County, has about 10 members who work on the shawls. “When we’re making the shawls, we’re asking God for blessings for the recipient,” Young said.

Franciscan Health Michigan City SANE Coordinator Lori Bridegroom, RN, said, “I was so touched hearing the stories about the prayer shawls and all love that goes into each one.  I know the prayer shawls will be appreciated and will certainly be a source of comfort to our Center of Hope patients.”

Bridegroom said she enjoyed meeting the three ladies, adding, “I sometimes feel sad and think our world has just become a cold, dark place.  But then there are moments like this, and I realize that just isn’t true. There is so much more good in our world than bad; the bad things just seem to get more publicity.”

The three representatives of the Prayer Shawl Ministry are all cancer survivors, so they understand the importance of compassionate care. “We were just happy to provide that service. We’re a service ministry, and that’s what we do,” Young said.

The Franciscan Health Foundation also accepts financial donations to provide the Center of Hope with funds to purchase items needed by their patients. To learn more or to donate to the Franciscan Health Foundation to support the Centers of Hope, go online at FranciscanHealthFoundation.org/programs/center-hope or call (219) 661-3401 in Northern Indiana.