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Volunteer Profile: Artist Turned Volunteer- Arlene Dennis

by Michele DeVinney

Picking up creative hobbies is one of life’s pleasures once your kids have grown and one has a little extra time to enjoy the artistic process. While this has proven true for Arlene Davis, a woman who enjoys everything from making quilts for her grandchildren to working on her embroidery machine, that urge has taken an unexpected turn. In recent years, she’s found a way to use her talents to contribute to Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana along the way.

When a friend of hers was diagnosed with cancer and benefited from the organization, Arlene learned of a need for someone who made cards. She had already been making greeting cards for all occasions by stamping, but the stamps, many of which included quotes and sayings, weren’t exactly what Cancer Services were looking for. Arlene first looked to a program held at a downtown church, finding the woman who was teaching it was painting the cards – something Arlene immediately knew she would not be able to do.

“She was painting pictures of flowers – and they looked like flowers. I knew there was no way I could paint a picture. This woman who was demonstrating was fabulous so I almost decided there and then to give up the whole idea.”

But before she could give up entirely, she was given a couple scraps of paper and told to go home and make something. Given that challenge, the world quickly opened up to her and with the help of some paper and ribbon, Arlene was soon producing the beautiful cards found at Cancer Services. She has proven prolific, as well, generating 100-200 at a time and more than a couple thousand so far.

“I don’t keep track of them, I just make them. It’s a good tension reliever, and I enjoy sitting down and doing it during the evenings or during the day. I sometimes do it with a CD on or the TV on – or with nothing on at all. When I see Linda and she gives me the empty cards, I usually say ‘Is that all you got?’ But then I get to go to Michael’s for paper.”

With her friend now in remission, Arlene is nonchalant about her contributions to Cancer Services, simply saying “I enjoy my end of it.” But Cancer Services is grateful for the hours of time Arlene has contributed – and the joy those cards have brought to so many.