It is the responsibility of the residents of the Stryker Homes building (across from Wegmans) to raise money each year so that they can have their annual Christmas banquet. One of the ways they've raised money in the past is to sell raffle tickets on what a local artisan and/or artist makes and then donates for the annual event.
Last year's donation was a set of three yarn-hooked tapestries made by Mary Doan, who passed away in 2016 and then left them for the purpose of helping raise funds for senior activities at Stryker. The previous year's handmade quilt was the gift of an anonymous quilter, a member of the Piecemakers Quilt Guild of Moravia.
This year's donation is the creative efforts of Glenora McEwen, a widow who moved in during the early part of last December, in time to attend the Christmas banquet.
McEwen approached me in June and offered to embroider a large, round tablecloth as this year's donation. After spending more than 200 hours on it, she completed the project in early September.
A native from the Watkins Glen area, Glenora's family moved to Sodus when she was a teenager. She is the oldest of nine children and “did a lot of the babysitting,” she recalled. (She was 20 when the youngest family sibling was born!)
When growing up, Glenora spent a great deal of time with her grandmother, who — from the age of 8 — taught her to both sew and cook. Throughout her years of marriage, she told me that she “continued to sew and even made most all of the children's clothes.”
She and her husband, Lee Robert McEwen, had two children, a son and a daughter. As a family, they did a great deal of camping. They bowled on a regular basis, and for years “organized local youth groups and coached younger kids how to bowl," she said. Lee was also a member of the Order of the Moose and, as a family, they participated in many of the organization's activities.
Lee was a truck driver his entire life. And after the kids were both in school, Glenora worked for 15 years as a dietary aide in a nearby nursing home.
When I asked about her grown children, she told me that “Patrick and Brenda (Haitz) are both married and live in Port Byron and visit on a regular basis.” Her daughter has three girls and her son has two boys and one girl, and “between them both, there's six grandchildren and a 5-year-old great-grandchild.” She later told me that Lee passed away in 2004.
When interviewing Glenora, I could not help but notice the numerous Native American memorabilia items in her living room, and I inquired about them.
Her response: “It's because my dad's mother was a full-bloodied Mohawk Indian who, because of divorce, I never got to know her. ... But I so wish I did.”
The photo accompanying this article shows Glenora sewing one of 13 similar scenes that depict snowmen around decorated Christmas trees.
The tablecloth will be hung on a long curtain rod in the Community Room, where it'll be seen until the day of the banquet. Raffle tickets will be available from members of the Activities Committee. They will sell for 25 cents each, or five tickets for $1. Tickets can also be purchased by the friends and family of the residents of the Stryker building.
Although the other senior facilities in Auburn receive funding from the city for many of their activities, Stryker does not. And although the Christopher Community group that manages the building does donate some money toward the banquet, the remainder of the cost has to be raised by the residents so that it can be a free Christmas meal for them.
Because there is a lack of money for activities, Stryker residents depend on those who will offer their service(s) for free. And although there are many agencies throughout the city and county that bring important information to the residents, entertainment and related fun events rarely occur because there's usually a cost involved.
This year's Stryker Christmas banquet is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 15, and arrangements are already underway for OroFino Catering to again cater the event.
I am also a resident of Stryker, and it is the hope of the residents that there might be some donated entertainment possible. And so it's important that the word gets out that it would be both welcomed and greatly appreciated by all of us here at Stryker if that entertainment would please show up and be this year's Christmas present!