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Sarah Center’s ‘Superstar’ Is Fashioning a Bright Future for Herself

Melanie Ruggles knows what the alternative is. She could spend her days staring at the TV, dwelling on her stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis. She could feel sorry for herself for losing her home last fall. She could let herself get caught up in what she calls “the grind of depression.”

Instead, Melanie is fashioning a new future for herself at the Sarah Center. Here, with the support of caring neighbors like you, she’s discovered not only a passion for sewing but much-needed hope, as well.

“I really love it,” says Melanie, 53. “I find it so … it’s hard to put into words. It’s nice to have that there because I’m not sitting there watching a bunch of depressing TV shows. Yeah, I know I’ve got cancer. I can either sit down and let it beat me, or I can beat it.”

Melanie currently lives in the Center for Respite Care, one of St. Francis Seraph Ministries’ partners in the St. Anthony Center. She takes her chemotherapy at home and started radiation treatments in January.

When she learned about the sewing classes at the Sarah Center, she was immediately intrigued. She hadn’t practiced sewing since her fifth-grade home economics class, but she’s proven to be a natural. Melanie quickly completed the #Stitched# 1.0 class and began hand-sewing in her free time. Now, she attends the #Stitched# 2.0 industrial sewing classes Monday through Thursday and is looking forward to earning her certificate of completion.

“She’s a superstar student,” Sarah Center Director Adina Wofford says. “She has such a positive attitude and completes all her projects in record time.”

Melanie plans to leverage her newfound skills as she gets back up on her feet. Because of her cancer treatments, she might not be able to work full time for a while. Sewing gives her the option to become an entrepreneur who sells her creations online.

“There is definitely a lot of hope going to those classes,” Melanie says. “It brightens my day. It makes me more independent. I want to improve my life; I don’t want to just sit there.”

Melanie plans to take advantage of everything the Sarah Center has to offer, even after she finds a new home and moves out of the Center for Respite Care. The Sarah Center’s jewelry-making classes are next on her to-do list.

The Sarah Center has had such a positive impact on her life, Melanie wants to be sure other people know they can find support there and from everyone at SFSM.

“You don’t have to just sit around and be bummed out that you’re homeless and have medical conditions and all that stuff,” she says. “I find it a blessing.”