Seamstress #039;sews#039; gift of love at Open Door School

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 17, 2005

In the trophy case of Open Door School, there is a quilt. It's called "The Quilt Made with Love and Working Hands," and it took first place in the Lawrence County fair in 2003.

It was made by students of Open Door and volunteer Mary Brammer, whose life is much like her quilt, the lives she has touched interwoven into a beautiful tapestry, by love, time and working hands.

Brammer was employed as a seamstress for nearly 40 years before she made her way to Open Door. Since 1994, she has driven the 25 miles from her home to the school to serve as a Foster Grandparent, providing individual care to the children with disabilities ages 6 to 21 that attend Open Door.

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For the past three years she has worked with Open Door teacher Gina Fraley, who considers Brammer to be an invaluable asset to her class.

"She's wonderful with the kids, very patient," Fraley said. "She's like another aid in the room, if I need something done, she'll do it. She loves the kids."

As she eats lunch with her foster grandchildren, a smiling Brammer can't stop listing all the things she likes about her job.

"I really like to meet all the children, and they're nice," Brammer said. "You feel like you're helping a little bit. I like being with the kids, and helping the kids with their math and their reading and stuff like that, whatever they need. And they all really love you."

Her specialty though seems to be helping kids on subjects outside of their studies, such as teaching how to bake the perfect cookie for a bake sale, or using her skills as a seamstress to create the aprons for the annual MR/DD Chili Fest. And, of course, helping the students with that prize-winning quilt.

In recent years, Brammer has suffered some health problems that have limited the amount of physical activity she could take part in. But that didn't keep her from her kids, and that's a very good thing, Fraley said.

"She's like a grandmother to me. When she fell ill, they asked me if I wanted a new grandma," Fraley said. "And I said 'No way, no way.' I wouldn't want anybody else in my room."