Wrapped up in warmth: Local woman creates scarves for Brighter Days residents

The warmth of Connie West’s heart had to overflow eventually to warmth for others. And it did precisely that recently, in bold plaids and argyles and solids and more.

Those were some of the patterns represented in the 70 single-layer fleece scarves she recently made as a free gift to residents of the Brighter Days emergency shelter in Columbus, to say nothing of the fleece blankets she sewed last year for the child clients of Beloved, dedicated to helping those transitioning to foster care.

To her, it’s no big deal, especially since she mentioned that these scarves required no knitting. Yet, if they did call on such ability, she’d have the proper skill set.

“For some reason, knitting and crocheting always have seemed to come naturally to me,” she said.

Apparently, so has wrapping herself in compassion and thoughtfulness, though she is far too humble to say such herself.

“If I have that, I am sure that I got it from God,” West said. “I’ve been a Christian since age 19 or 20.

“And I do try to help other people when I can. I grew up in a fairly cold house. And partly because of that, maybe that’s why I have a heart for other, less fortunate people who have had problems.”

Her outreach began when she and friend Pat Shoemaker decided last year to create items to give away to others. Kelly Daugherty, the executive director of the Ecumenical Assembly of Bartholomew County Churches that operates Brighter Days, took a moment a few days ago in his office to show off the scarves that a staffer later distributed at the shelter.

“Aren’t those really nice?” Daugherty said. “I think it’s really neat that she would take time to do something like this.”

West, Columbus’ 71-year-old Lee Street resident who loves focusing on others, has known her share of hardship and heartache. She has battled cancer four times, which also may have something to do with her heart for others. Stage 4 lung cancer rattled her the most.

“I thought, ‘OK, this is the one that’s going to get me,’” she said.

Instead, it seems to have simply been the one to make her more focused on kindness and gratitude. Prayer and medicine wiped out lesions in her lungs.

“God can do an awful lot of things,” she said. “I’m just glad they caught the first two (cancers) when they were at Stage 2.”

All told since last year, she spent five days and some $700 in fabric from Joann Fabric and Crafts to make both the Beloved blankets and Brighter Days scarves.

“I think I’ve caught every sale that they have had,” West said.

And every Friday morning, she volunteers at Love Chapel food pantry. She made scarves for a lot of other volunteers and staff at Love Chapel, too.

She was so kind with helping shoppers select grocery items there in the past — before the pandemic changed the format — that one grateful female client reached up and gently kissed her on the head as a sign of thanks before departing with her food.

Her sweetness includes an employment background that encompassed nearly every area of the former Sap’s Bakery in Columbus, including assistant office manager. Yet, life is different now.

“Now that I’m retired, I regularly write down stuff I’ve done each day,” she said. “That’s so I can look back later and say, ‘Oh — I actually DID something on that particular day.”

Write this down, for sure: In a pandemic, everyday life that currently can be chilly with depression, Connie West has warmth wrapped up and delivered to those in need.