Life can present a chance, but it is knowing when to take it.
Volunteer Elizabeth Ewashkiw, of Belleville, can tell you.
"Opportunities just come knocking on your door, and it's up to you to decide which ones you will do and which ones you can't do," she said.
Ewashkiw has knit since she was seven-years-old. During summer trips to her family cottage, her aunt, who was a sewing teacher at the time, would show her.
It would be a lifelong hobby.
Ewashkiw and her husband, Malcolm, moved to Belleville 22 years ago when her husband got his first teaching job. She too was a teacher, mostly junior kindergarten.
But for the last 16 years, she has been enjoying retirement. She said her and her husband love the town, all the friendly people and plan to be here for a long time.
For the last nine years, she has put her knitting knowledge to special use.
In 2008, one evening during the Inn From the Cold at Bridge Street United Church, she saw two women knitting while eating dinner. Inn From the Cold offers hot meals, seven days a week, to those in the community in need of food during January and February.Rev. Bill Smith told Ewashkiw about the two women and encouraged her to introduce herself as a fellow knitter.
From there, the two original women, Ewashkiw, and her friend agreed to get together regularly and donate their time to knit for Inn For the Cold guests. That year the women knit a total of 148 hats, scarves and mittens to donate.
Knitters United has grown to 36 women who meet the second and fourth Wednesday of every month from 3 to 5 p.m. at the church to knit and socialize.
Ewashkiw said she is a strong believer in volunteering and because of her Christian faith to do good works for others.
The knitting group is not a religious group, rather welcoming anyone in the community that wants to join, she said. It also welcomes donations.
"I knew someone was coming one day to drop off a box of yarn. When they left, I put the box out on the table and opened it, and the women just leave the table and go ... it's like Christmas!," she recalled. 'What can I use? What can I make? Oh, this will go with this!' And I am not joking by the time I got out my iPad to take a picture of it the box was going down. And two minutes later after the picture was taken there were two balls of white wool left. They really appreciate getting new wool," she recalled.
Besides, hats, mittens, scarves, the group makes Izzy dolls.
These dolls are made around the world and were inspired by a Canadian military man, Master Corporal Mark Isfeld, who was killed removing landmines in 1994. His mother was a knitter and would make the dolls for him to bring over seas with him when he was called for a deployment. He would bring the dolls with him to villages and give them to children he approached to make them feel comfortable. After he was killed, his mother continued making the dolls, calling them Izzy dolls, because that was the nickname her son had.
The Knitters United group always keeps a stash of dolls on hand and deliver them to CFB Trenton when soldiers are sent out for deployment.
"They are truly knit out of scraps and then filled with polyester stuffing. We make them with difference faces, hair and skin colours," Ewashkiw explained.
They also make some dolls without faces, as certain religions believe it is not appropriate for inanimate objects to have faced.
Time or age doesn't slow Ewashkiw down. She can multitask as she knits, and at a very quick pace.
"I often take my knitting to meetings. As long as I don't have to chair the meeting, I'll be following along as I go. And I can jump in anytime and add to the discussion."
She loves to knit items for her friends or family but tries to stay away from complicated colour or stitch patterns.
She admits one of the hardest things to knit is gloves because "you have to be sure to get all the finger lengths the same size and shape and that can be tricky."
Although gloves may be a challenge, she's one of few women in the knitting group that can knit mittens.
She explained scarves and hats especially are easier to knit, so most women tend to stick to those items.
A lot of the winter apparel that's knit goes to the Inn From the Cold program.
Ewashkiw explained every night the group would set out five hats, scarves and pairs of gloves. They refrain from putting more out to ensure people aren't taking more than they need too, and so their stock won't go down as quickly.
She said recently the group sold a blanket they had made, so the money from that went towards purchasing pairs of socks to donate.
"Recently, we had also been given some socks to distribute, and I was putting the clothing out on a table at the church. I had only one pair of socks left, and I thought 'Should I put those on the table?' And I looked around and saw someone having dinner who I'd never seen before," Ewashkiw recalled. "It was a male by himself, and I said to him 'I have one pair of socks left, is there any chance you could use a new pair of socks?' I have never seen anyone more appreciative. I'm sure he thanked me about seven times. Obviously, there was a need that probably wouldn't have got met if I hadn't had that little personal encounter."
Last year 2,952 different items were knit and donated to Inn From the Cold, Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation, Adopt a Child, Salvation Army Family Services, local Syrian refugee families and Three Oaks. A total of 545 hats, mittens, scarves and socks alone were donated to Inn From the Cold.
Ewashkiw said someone who goes beyond the normal expectations in any situation, and sometimes that means it involves taking a risk and other times it involves a great deal of time or energy, is what she believes to be a hero.