Purls of Wisdom

by | Jan 2021

Baby wearing knitted hat.

Photo: Chris Emeott

Knitting volunteers are honored with the Trailblazer Award.

Recognized for its dedication and commitment to spreading joy throughout the Maple Grove Hospital, The Knitting Grandmas and Friends program received the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota annual Trailblazer Award.

Since the opening of the hospital in 2009, The Knitting Grandmas and Friends have handcrafted more than  45,000 one-of-a-kind hats for newborns in the facility. Using yarn supplied by the hospital’s volunteer fund, 65 group members work diligently to make a minimum of three hats a week each to keep up with the demand. Individually wrapped with a note from the knitter and a description of the program, these hats are truly customized with love.

The group is filled with experienced knitters, some of which are blue ribbon winners at the Minnesota State Fair. Sheila Enestvedt, a knitter since she was 5-years-old and a member since February 2010, says that the members share a common bond.

Before the pandemic, the group would meet weekly at Maple Grove Community Center to knit and crochet. Now, Knitting Grandmas regularly hosts a drop-off event in the parking lot, where individuals can exchange finished hats for new yarn.

“I can’t say enough about how great this group is as human beings and as volunteers to one another,” says Jennifer Nelson, volunteer manager at Maple Grove Hospital. “I know that they will continue to adapt to whatever is put in front of them and continue making an impact in the community.”

The Trailblazer Award

Encouraging communities to reach their full potential, Blue Cross  works to transform the face of healthcare through three purpose areas: a provider (clinics or health systems), a foundation (education and community-based organizations) and a center for prevention (access to healthcare coverage).

As a part of recognizing the varying types of care, the Trailblazer Award sheds light on innovation across the state, ranging from large-scale, multi-year initiatives to specific smaller community needs. Since 2016, Blue Cross has awarded over 34 organizations across Minnesota for their dedication to making a healthy difference in their communities.

“This award is a testament to [the awardees] commitment to doing their part to bring about community change and do things that promote mental, physical and social wellbeing,” says Scott Keefer, vice president of public affairs for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. “These programs and these trailblazers show us what unites us as people and as Minnesotans.”

Nominated by people engaged with Blue Cross partners externally, the organization is 2.8 million people strong (all 50 states and on four continents) and is home to more than 3,000 associates, who are geared toward spotting and celebrating innovation, Keefer says.


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