NEW CASTLE — If you take the bus to commute to work between New Castle and Aspen, you might have seen a woman in her seat diligently knitting away.
And if you asked for her business card, you would see that it reads, “Helping to make the world a better place — one stitch at a time.”
That is truly what Christine Goodendorf of New Castle has been doing for the past eight years and why she has been named a 9Who Care winner by Channel 9 in Denver.
Goodendorf, an avid knitter and crocheter, makes hats, afghans and other items of clothing that she gives away to charities around the country from baby clothes to new mothers to warm blankets for soldiers overseas.
“It started after my neighbor lost her son at age 15 from leukemia,” Goodendorf recalled. “They were staying at Brent’s Place in Denver, which is like a Ronald McDonald house for kids being treated for cancer. I contacted someone down there and asked what they could use.”
Which got her wheels turning.
“I was watching the news one night and saw something about ‘Kaps for Kendall’ in Denver that was holding an all-day knit-in, and I got involved,” Goodendorf said. “I got more people involved and last year, five of us here went. It’s kind of snowballed from there.”
Goodendorf became involved in The Ships Project in Casselberry, Fla., knitting hats and afghans for the soldiers and making things for Hospice of the Valley in Glenwood Springs for the past two Christmases.
Other charities that have benefitted from Goodendorf’s charitable work include “Afghans for Afghans” in San Francisco; Children’s Memorial Hospital, La Rabida Children’s Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital, all in Chicago; Dear Dana in Parker; Pathfinders for Cancer in Aspen; Project Linus in Grand Junction; and The Special Olympics of Colorado, Iowa and Illinois.
“People say that I could make all kinds of money knitting, but I’ve never wanted to do it as a business, it kind of takes the fun out of it,” Goodendorf said with a smile. “I’d rather stick with it as a charity.”
And there are many grateful recipients of Goodendorf’s creations.
“At the holiday time, Chris Goodendorf’s gifts are sometimes the only gifts some of our families receive,” said Tondalaya Shepard-Turner, director of Volunteer & Community Service for Sinai Health System. “Some of our moms leave the hospital with many cards, balloons and gifts while others leave only with their baby. It’s those moms that we reach out to brighten their day with a Chris Goodendorf original. It says somebody is thinking of you, somebody wishes you well and somebody thinks you can do this!”
According to Carol Buick of Glenwood Springs, Goodendorf began working with the Valley View Hospital prayer shawl knitting group known as “Threads of Love” several years ago.
“She has knit and crocheted many shawls for patients and family members who are in need of the love, prayers and caring that each shawl is made with,” Buick wrote in one of the nomination letters for the 9Who Care award. “Chris not only knits and crochets with incredible expertise and artistry, she crochets and knits with a loving and caring attitude and, always, with selfless generosity. She is an extraordinary volunteer. She is an extraordinary person.”
The “Kaps for Kendall” group that she began knitting for after seeing the TV commercial for the knit-in is grateful for both her hats and her help in fundraising.
“In addition to Chris’s hat donations and fundraising skills, she is enjoyable to be around,” wrote Allison Adams and Whitney Atkinson, co-founders of Kaps for Kendall. “Her spirit is very genuine and she is the kind of person you know would do anything to help. Chris has made nearly 300 hats for Kaps for Kendall, lifting the spirits of many in need after they receive a special hat. She is invaluable to our project and we look forward to continuing to work with Chris.”
Gifts of love
Sean Jeung, chaplain for HomeCare & Hospice of the Valley has never met Goodendorf, but has heard about her and seen her work. She recalled coming into the office one day and finding a mountain of hand-made shawls and blankets made by Goodendorf.
“When all the bags were opened, the enormity of her offering was astounding,” Jeung wrote in her letter. “She had knit whole blankets in addition to shawls and lap blankets. The colors and yarns chosen were all conducive to helping someone feel calm, peaceful and comforted. The privilege, as chaplain, of bringing these beautiful gifts of love to our patients as they navigate end of life, is beyond description.”
Goodendorf belongs to several knitting groups and her peers were more than willing to contribute their reasons why she should be nominated for 9Who Care.
“New Castle recently formed a Needlework Guild, and Chris is an important part of this group as so many members are beginners and need help,” wrote LaRue Wentz, who has been involved with a number of knitting projects with Goodendorf. “Last year, Chris got us involved in The Red Scarf project. We are participating in a Knit Along. The Rifle Meals on Wheels provides a Birthday Basket for anyone receiving a meal. They need knitted scarves, hats and dishcloths. We will certainly help them!”
Susan Vincent met Goodendorf through a friend a number of years ago and says she is an unending source of inspiration to other knitters.
“From day one when I met her in a knitting group, she has been knitting and crocheting for charity,” Vincent wrote, citing Goodendorf’s work for Valley View Hospital, the Special Olympics and knitting for soldiers when the Denver Public Library was trying to collect 5,280 hats for soldiers. “She continues to inspire us through her unselfish, unrelenting energy to knit for charity.”
Goodendorf may be unassuming when you mention her charitable work, but she was flabbergasted this week when she was told by Channel 9 in Denver that she was their 9Who Care winner for May.
“I was shocked,” Goodendorf said with disbelief. “When she told me, I burst into tears. I was flabbergasted. I’ve seen [the winners] on Channel 9 before and I’m humbled to be in their company.”
Lynne Valencia, president of community relations for 9News said a “prestigious” group of business leaders in the community make up the selection committee.
“9News has been honoring outstanding volunteers for 34 years and we get so many great nominations every month,” Valencia said. “Those that we’ve identified are those who are the real deal — they’re not doing it for recognition, they do it because it comes out of their heart.”
The TV station picks winners for the months of September through May and their stories are featured on the station in the month for which they have won. They receive $900 to give to the charity of their choice.
“And there will be a formal dinner to recognize them with their family and friends in June,” Valencia added.
Just as excited as Goodendorf about the award was her friend Joanne Boysen of New Castle, who was responsible for putting together the nomination letters and emails and submitting them to Channel 9.
“Chris is the most outstanding person in her effort I have ever met,” Boysen wrote in her own nomination letter. “She deserves this recognition. Your program has given me the opportunity to bring together all the organizations she helps to show how extraordinary and inspiring she is.”
Goodendorf’s story and interview with Channel 9 will be aired on May 2 and again on May 3.
And if you happen to see Goodendorf sitting on your bus during the work week, diligently knitting away, congratulate her and say “thank you.”