Mary Ann Gaskins is a textile fiber artist specializing in handmade crochet apparel. She has a BA degree in education. She has shared her creative vision, “Our Ideas Create Change,” with students at the Freedom Youth Academy, which she co-founded with her husband. They have been recognized by two presidents of the United States and the Secretary of Education for their outstanding work in the community. They have been featured in over 85 articles and received numerous honors and awards. Mrs. Gaskins exhibits and sells her work under the name “Heartfelt Stitches” at churches, fairs and festivals.”
Heartfelt Stitches was created as a fundraiser for Freedom Youth Academy to allow some students East of the River an opportunity to attend the year-round program free of charge. It was also added to the curriculum as a teaching tool. Crochet inspires students and teaches them to read and to follow directions; to be patient, creative and focused on a given task. Crochet also instills confidence, organization, and a realization of a successful completion of their desired goals and objectives. Students completed assignments by making scarves, hats, headbands, purses, and ponchos. They further personalized their items to conform with their peer group fashions and style expectations.
On September 26, 2010, Mrs. Gaskins facilitated a “Crochet with Bright Geechee Colors” workshop as part of the Gullah Exhibit at the Anacostia Smithsonian Museum. For the past four years, she has assisted and taught seniors at the Washington Senior Wellness Center to crochet, to read patterns, and to realize an intense sense of accomplishment. Crochet is very medicinal and also helps the seniors to work on their cognitive skills. Seniors have consistently demonstrated a unique degree of enthusiasm and interest in their achievement. It makes no difference as to whether you are young or young-in-heart, crochet can be a beneficial and valuable asset in enhancing one’s quality of life.