Meet Martha. She is a volunteer with CIWA’s Arts and Crafts for Seniors and Seniors Sewing Group and December’s Volunteer of the Month.

Martha Velasco along with her adult brothers, sister, and mother came to Canada as refugees in 2008 due to political unrest. She was born and raised in Colombia, where she worked in a manufacturing factory and eventually ran her own business. She crea tailors curtains, clothing and baby clothes for family and friends. Sometimes she’d sell these items but mostly she found herself doing this for the love of the craft.

Martha was studying English when she saw a presentation on the topic of volunteering. She was excited at the notion to volunteer, where she could use her creativity and didn’t need perfect English to be involved. She enjoys sewing and cross-stitch and got excited when she learned about crafting volunteer opportunities for seniors. Martha very quickly started volunteering with two separate programs at CIWA: Arts and Crafts for Seniors and the Seniors Sewing Group. Martha has been dedicated in both groups, where she offers her cross-stitching skills.

She loves volunteering with CIWA because she feels involved in something meaningful, she makes friends, and do what she loves best – crafting. Martha says she loved cross-stitch ever since she was a child, and that love never went away. She is incredibly talented at following patterns and especially coming up with her own creations. She also appreciates the community of friends she has made through volunteerism. She has formed strong bonds with many of the women in the groups and created lifelong friends.

Martha says she has learned many new things and techniques that improve her sewing. She says she ‘loves it when things look perfect’ – which most certainly shows in her meticulous and precise work. CIWA staff say her work is always absolutely flawless and beautiful. Even the back of her cross-stitch creations are perfect and almost the same as the front. She also attributes her time volunteering at CIWA to how greatly her English has improved.

CIWA staff are amazed at the perfection and beauty in what she makes. She pays great attention to detail and they are surprised by the sheer volume of how many items she creates. She provides great encouragement to other group members and supports them as much as possible. Martha is incredibly devoted to both craft groups and is deeply reliable, impeccable, patient, gentle with others, and much more. She takes care of her mother and will ensure there is someone to be home on days when she needs to leave the house to volunteer. Because she is volunteering from home due to Covid she now finds small jobs for her mother to do to help her with her craft items.

Martha enjoys keeping busy with small projects, connecting with friends, and doing her own craft projects. She also enjoys cooking, baking then sharing the delicious things she makes with others. One day she’d like to teach cross-stitch to others.


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