Adelaide Massengale: Getting Crafty!
C Roebuck Reed
For Adelaide Massengale, the spirit of volunteering comes naturally. In fact, Adelaide's late mother was her inspiration to share her gifts with others. "The act of giving is its own reward," she says.
Adelaide volunteers at PSC once a month, leading the Cardmaking Workshop. She brings card stock, envelopes, and materials for embellishing the cards that her students make. With a rich, hearty laugh she insists that she gets as much out of the class as she gives. "This is my community," she says. "I give and I get from crafting. I do it for myself, my students, and my mother. When I am crafting, I am transformed. I'm in touch with a creative part of myself that gives me purpose and helps me stay alive."
This is a woman who knows something about staying alive. During her second bout with cancer and after she retired from working for the City of Pasadena, Adelaide realized what was missing in her life. "I wasn't taking care of my whole self. I needed more creative joy, and that's what I get when I interact with people through crafting. We talk while we craft. We get to know each other's stories, and the class transforms in the same way that I do. My love for this work is contagious. People come to my class out of curiosity, maybe with a friend, and they come back to enjoy the sense of purpose and the friendships they find here. It gives you a feeling of pride and accomplishment, and it's just plain fun."
Several times a year the class stages a Card-A-Thon around a specific theme. Students all make, for example, Christmas Cards or Mother's Day cards. The Senior Center then arranges for the cards to go to homebound or frail individuals, and others who would especially appreciate the beautiful gesture. Other times the students keep the cards they make.
Adelaide, also a life coach, feels she is fulfilling an important life purpose when she teaches crafting. She knows how important it is to try new things, to stay busy, approach life with enthusiasm, and avoid boredom. "When I ask the students how many have made cards before, almost no one says they have. But as we work, they start to remember that they did in school. We do crafts up until about third grade, and then for most of us, that just stops. Some of us go for decades without opening ourselves up to the creative process. I was fortunate to have strong and loving role models," she says, "and I pass on what I learned from them. That means staying creative and productive. Age doesn't matter. Be alive!"
Adelaide has lived in Pasadena since she was a child. Later on, her father was also a regular at the Senior Center, just as she is. Asked if she has tried any of the other classes, she laughs again. "Not yet, but I plan to! It feels like home here, so warm and loving, so comfortable."