Twigs Celebrates 50-year and $3 Million Milestones
Who Are the Twigs?
If you’ve ever driven down Lexington Avenue in Mount Kisco, you may have noticed a sign that reads Thriftree Thrift Shop. You may have even stopped in to poke around — they offer adult and children’s clothing and shoes, toys, books, appliances, house wares, and jewelry. What you may not realize is that everyone working in the shop is a volunteer with a non-profit organization known as Twigs, and that over the last half-century this unassuming shop and the Twig members have raised $3 million dollars for Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH).
What is Twigs? The association was started in 1887 as a volunteer effort for a local hospital in Rochester, New York. The group was so small that they didn’t feel they could be considered a branch of anything, so they referred to themselves as Twigs. As members moved away from Rochester, they started Twigs in new cities.
In 1945, a group of women founded Twigs of Northern Westchester Hospital over tea at The Kittle House in Chappaqua. At first, says Helen Ewen, the current president of Twigs, the women mostly sewed baby blankets for newborns and made holiday tray favors for patients. But as the group grew, members hosted fundraisers for the Hospital. And in 1964, the group came up with the concept of opening the thrift shop.
“There are actually nine different Twigs groups that take turns working at the thrift store,” says Ewen. The members sort the donated items and work the register. “And some of the groups also do wine-tastings and fashion shows to raise money,” she says. In February, Ewen’s Twig hosted an event at a member’s home where NWH’s Executive Chef did a cooking demo followed by a tasting. “My group is amazing at coming up with fun and unique fundraising ideas,” she says.
Barbara Craig belongs to the second oldest Twig group; she has been a Twig since 1952. “When we were all getting together to make baby blankets, the group was very social,” she says. It’s still a great way to interact with friends, she says, but the work can be challenging. “The most fun I had was founding a fundraising golf tournament that ran from 2003 to 2007 at the Mount Kisco Country Club,” she says. “It was a lot of work, but it was very nice money maker for the Hospital.”
Recruiting new members usually happens through word of mouth, says Ewen. “I was asked to join by a friend, and I’ve asked other friends.” That’s how Karen McFeely found the group in 2011. McFeely was retired and had been caring for her parents. After they passed away, McFeely wanted another outlet. “I was telling two friends that I had too much time on my hands, and they both said I needed to become a Twig.”
McFeely treasures the camaraderie she feels with other Twig members. “I was wondering how they managed to attract so many great women!” She also appreciates raising money for Northern Westchester Hospital: “Two of my three children were born there and it was a fabulous experience.”
The passion of the volunteers — and the pleasure they take in their work — helps explain the longevity of Twigs. At a luncheon on May 8 of this year, they’ll begin the 50 year celebration of the Thriftree Thrift Shop by presenting NWH with a check that will bring their total donation $3 million. “It’s a wonderful feeling,” says Ewen.
If you’re interested in joining Twigs, contact Helen Ewen at email@example.com.
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