COMMUNITY GEMS: ‘Hat ministry’ by Centerville woman keeps others warm

Centerville resident Beverly Forsee has crocheted thousands of hats for kids and adults

Beverly Forsee doesn’t know the thousands of people who have received a hat that she has crocheted over the years, but she knows how the donations affect her.

“It just gives you a rosy feeling,” said the 79-year-old Centerville woman.

She began crocheting hats to donate about 25 years ago, but it is only within the last few years that she joined Stitches of Love, a group that meets monthly at a Dayton area church.

The items they make are donated throughout the area, including to nursing homes, members of the military and children in the hospital, she said. Forsee’s specialty is hats.

A baby hat takes her about 90 minutes to complete, while a hat for an adult takes about four hours. The fanciest hats take the longest to make, but the results are often utilitarian.

“Most of the time they just want to be warm,” she said.

Forsee doesn’t know exactly how many hats she has made over the years, but she knows it is in the thousands. Last year she counted: 175 hats, or one completed about every other day.

Her hats have gone as far as Afghanistan, but most of the needs are local to the Dayton area. The group will occasionally receive thank you cards from receiving organizations.

“It makes you feel good because you know you’ve helped someone,” she said.

Forsee, who was born and bred in Dayton, retired in 2001 as the executive secretary for the Dayton chief of police. One place that receives her hats is close to her heart. The CARE House serves abused children in Montgomery County, and the house counts the Dayton Police Department as a founding partner.

She brings the CARE House her hats along with other things they need, like snacks and stuffed animals.

Forsee makes most of her hats at home, but Stitches of Love meets every month to learn about the current needs, get supplies and to work together for a couple of hours.

Forsee began crocheting many years ago. She had a baby in 1970 that lived only two days. In the difficult time that followed, a neighbor sent her 11-year-old daughter to her house to crochet together. Forsee found the rhythm comforting.

“People who knit and crochet – there’s just something about it that soothes the soul,” she said. “You can let your troubles go and relax.”

Many organizations need help and volunteers, and Forsee has found where she can serve through what she calls her “hat ministry.”

“I have found my home with Stitches of Love,” she said.

Her husband, Ron Forsee, thinks she deserves more credit for the devotion she’s put into the hats for decades. The couple has been married for 41 years, and he nominated her as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem.

She gets satisfaction from crocheting the hats, but he still reminds her how wonderful her work truly is.

“That’s something that’s a piece of you that will go to someone else and live,” he said.

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