Widows Empowering Widows in Dumas

By Kim Dishongh

Lydia Davis’ husband died in 2013, and she struggled to make it through the days, weeks and months without him.

“There was no outreach out there that I could pull from and after being married for 50 years I was just totally devastated,” said Davis, who lives in Dumas. “I didn’t know what to do.”

She tried to keep busy, but evenings were a challenge. For three years, she came home from work and cut all the grass from her lawn each day instead of going inside to the quiet and loneliness.

“It came to me that I needed to start something for other people,” she said.

In November 2013, she started hosting dinners at a church, inviting people, mostly women, to just come and eat together and spend time consoling one another and enjoying companionship.

In 2017, she opened the doors to the nonprofit, Widows Empowering Widows and Reaching Others. It was formed as a support group for other widows who needed an outlet while helping others. One of their goals was to provide grief counseling through quilting projects and community service.

A year later, she bought a long-arm quilting machine and set out to use it to raise money for the organization. The money, she hopes, will allow for more service to the community.

Over the summer, between May and August, the organization offered keyboarding lessons for children.

“I’m interested in music, and we need music in our community, like anything else,” said Davis, who through the organization, bought several keyboards and headsets for the classes. “We need musicians in our churches, and we need children to learn music.”

Her son, she recalled, took piano lessons and easily used that skill to play the saxophone. There is also some strong research linking music skills and brain development and academic skills.

“I taught them the basics so they can start trying to put together the keys so they can make a melody,” she said.

The Widows Empowering Widows and Reaching Others quilting circle meets on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday each week, with four or five regulars gathering to keep each other company and to create quilts in a multitude of colors and patterns.

“We make them, and we sell them and we put the money back in the treasury,” she said. “This is the money we’re going to use to help the widows and unfortunate people.”

The widows in the quilting circle learn from one another, none of them were master quilters before joining this circle. Davis has brought in people to teach them, as well.

“They’re all beautiful when they’re done,” said Erma Evans, who has been part of the circle since its inception. “I come up here and be with these ladies. I enjoy piecing the quilts, and I enjoy the company.”

Shirley Thrash was later in joining, but she brings the skills she gained from sewing clothing for herself and her children as they grew.

“I was still working and didn’t come as often as I should have. I travel a lot. but I’m down here when I can, said Thrash. “I did a lot of stitching with my mom while she was here. I’m trying to relearn it now. There were a lot of things I forgot.”

The time they spend together, making comforting, warm quilts for others, brings warmth and comfort to them as well. “We just sit here, and we talk… it’s really a lot of fun,” Davis said. “It’s really enjoyable.”

Davis hopes to expand the organization into the building next door and create an area in the Widows Empowering Widows building where widows — or others — can teach children’s music lessons and offer some mentoring and homework help as well.

“We want to empower widows to reach out and do things for other folks,” said Davis. “That’s my whole goal, to help this community. We want to come together and draw ideas and feel good about what we’re doing in life. This is what I really want to see happen in this town.”