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High school student starts non-profit and pursues gold award

Solving problems one stitch at a time

High school student starts non-profit and pursues gold award

Gabriella Rado, a Senior at John F. Kennedy Catholic Preparatory School in Somers and an Ambassador Girl Scout, has founded a non-profit organization called Sew Kind and has been teaching children to sew at the Boys and Girls Club in the City of Newburgh during its Saturday night Star Drop-In Program.  

In late October, her program will also begin at the Boys and Girls Club in the City of Poughkeepsie. The program was recently approved by Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson as a potential Gold Award Project. Gabriella’s slogan is “Solving Problems One Stitch at a Time.” The organization’s mission is to foster an interest in the engineering of sewing by teaching children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn and to spread kindness by creating sustainable items that fill a local need. 

"When people think of engineering, they tend to think of bridges, roadways or cars, but sewing requires a similar thought process. You have to figure out how to solve a problem, come up with a design, and then build it. The only difference is you're dealing with fabric,” says Rado, who has been a Girl Scout since the age of 5, is applying to colleges and pursuing a career in engineering. “Learning how to sew could really spark an interest in engineering for many children--as it did for me. Girls, in particular, are typically not groomed to think in this way."

Back in 2020 during the pandemic and while attending school remotely, Gabriella, at just 13 years old, organized a neighborhood effort and sewed nearly a thousand masks for healthcare workers at Westchester Medical Center, for seniors and for the medically compromised after a local nurse expressed an urgent need. As the desire for masks subsided last year and things slowly began to return to normal, Gabriella says she didn't feel much like sewing masks anymore and wanted to focus on sewing things that made people happy. Many suggested that she start a sewing business to save money for college, but Gabriella much preferred to sew for charity.

READ MORE: Knitting isn't just for the girls

“We’ve had both boys and girls walk in the door and learn how to use a sewing machine. We began making pillowcases for Mother’s Day and moved on to making blankets for chemotherapy patients,” said Gabriella.  "Many people think that our generation has no interest in sewing and in many ways, it is a lost art, but I believe many young people would love to learn if they only had the opportunity. They either don't have someone in their lives to teach them or don’t have the money to take lessons. Sewing machines can also be unaffordable for many."

Gabriella hopes that Sew Kind will spread to other communities. She has already received inquiries about her program from as far away as New Jersey. In order to make the program work, she needs veteran, experienced sewers to join the effort and step in to help as the demand grows, particularly in the Newburgh location. A Girl Scout Gold Award project must be sustainable—a program that will continue--with or without Gabriella at the helm.

Sew Kind collects monetary donations, donations of sewing materials and “like new” machines, that will eventually be gifted to sewing students who demonstrate a passion and desire to sew for others. For more information, to become a volunteer sewer or to learn how you can help, visit SewKind.org or follow Sew Kind on Instagram @SewKindNY. Sew Kind is also on Facebook.

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