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Non-profit preparing women for the workforce through sewing program

Posted at 1:52 AM, Sep 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-21 06:26:56-04

A St. Petersburg non-profit organization is doing their part to put women who may be down on their luck back in the workforce.

"You can teach anybody anything, but if you're broken it doesn't matter," said Elizabeth Bunbury, founder of Answered Prayers Project.

At the non-profit's headquarters, it is almost like magic when fabric and thread come together. Just a year ago it seemed like rocket science to Theresa Carvell.

"They put a needle and cloth in my hands and asked me to make a pillow and I didn't know how," Carvell said.

A stint in the Pinellas County Jail made Carvell turn inward. But a program at the jail helped her develop sewing skills.

"I was begging for my 2nd chance," Carvell said.

Carvell's tote bags caught the eye of Bunbury who told her to drop by the next day to apply for a seamstress position.

"The day I came to fill out my application when I got to my work history, I was 17 years unemployed," Carvell said. "I sat and stared at it, I didn't know what to do."

In Pinellas County, recent numbers show even if people are working hard they are barely making it.

The United Way of Florida’s most recent study shows about 41 percent of the county’s households are living on wages below the basic cost of living.

About 18 months ago, Bunbury started the Welcome Home project where women would sew pillows and sell them.

Realizing she put the cart in front of the horse, Bunbury decided to create Sewn Together as a precursor to Welcome Home. The 16-week readiness program teaches foundational sewing skills. At the end of the course, all the women get their own sewing machine.

If you are interested in this program or just want to be a volunteer, you can visit Answered Prayers Project's website or call (727)-420-3240.