21 Service Projects Done at BYU Women’s Conference

Contributed By Valerie Johnson, Church News staff writer

  • 22 May 2015

Hand-sewn owls completed at the BYU Women’s Conference are among seven “take, make, and return” projects.  Photo by Valerie Johnson.

Article Highlights

  • Thousands of women attending the conference participated in 21 various service projects.

“We hope that even though we can’t meet every need at this one conference, that when the 15,000 women from [their] communities come and join us, it sparks something in them.” —Sister Lorelie Sander, organizer of the service projects

PROVO, UTAH

Thousands of women attending the BYU Women’s Conference participated in a variety of service projects during the two-day event April 30 and May 1. From fleece blankets to “courage capes” and crocheted hats and scarves to “happy pillow” kits, the variety of projects were as wide as the community’s needs.

In the planning and deciding on the 21 various service projects that the women would complete at the conference, the service subcommittee kept in mind the direction given by Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, in her October 2012 general conference talk, titled “First Observe, Then Serve.” Lorelie Sander, who organized the service projects, said, “What she’s saying is, before we plan what we’re going to do, we should think about who we’re going to do that for.”

There were three different ways that conference attendees could complete service projects. The first was through take, make, and return projects. In Ziplock bags that the women picked up at the Marriott Center before the conference started on April 30 were the materials to make one of seven projects. They could also attend one of the service learning centers in five buildings around campus. These projects helped keep the women’s hands busy during sessions of the conference.

Examples of “happy pillows” for children in hospitals, which were created as part of the Evening of Service on April 30. Photo by Valerie Johnson.

Sharing stations at BYU Women’s Conference teach about a different type of service, giving conference attendees ideas for how to serve in their communities. Photo by Valerie Johnson.

Sharing stations at BYU Women’s Conference teach about a different type of service, giving conference attendees ideas for how to serve in their communities. Photo by Valerie Johnson.

Decorated stick horses to be donated to various local charitable agencies were made at the BYU Women’s Conference Evening of Service on April 30.

Examples of journals created at the Evening of Service hosted by BYU Women’s Conference. Photo by Valerie Johnson.

Sisters created various games and toys, including a matching game, that were assembled into activity kits during BYU Women’s Conference’s Evening of Service on April 30. Photo by Valerie Johnson.

On Thursday night, the conference hosted an event called Evening of Service. In the gymnasiums of the Richards Building and the Smith Fieldhouse, hundreds of women gathered to work on six major projects. For instance, volunteers created “happy pillow” kits that will be sent to hospitals for children to make and decorate.

Church Humanitarian Services and Feeding Children Everywhere sponsored a meal packets project, which women at the conference assembled. “The experience was so overwhelmingly spiritual because of the camaraderie and the sisterhood,” said Karrie Perry, who helped assemble the meal packets. Despite having a handicapped placard because she has problems with her feet, Sister Perry was determined to see the project through to the end. “I knew we were doing it for the children, and, knowing that, it didn't matter that we didn’t go to dinner. It didn’t matter that we didn’t eat because we were feeding so many other people.”

“At times our legs were hurting … so we’d start dancing around and we just had a blast,” Dawnell Keyes, Sister Perry’s sister, said. “At the very end, we were so tired, we were about to leave. And then all of a sudden, they just said that there were 280,000 cases that had been done, and everyone [cheered], ‘Wahoo!’ and we all flipped our hairnets up. It was just a lot of fun.”

Even with all of these projects, not all of the needs of the community can be met. “One of the major goals of the service that we do at women’s conference is to help inspire the sisters who attend to go back home and serve in their own communities,” Sister Sander said. “We hope that even though we can’t meet every need at this one conference, that when the 15,000 women from [their] communities come and join us, it sparks something in them. Their eyes will open and they will say, ‘I can do this in my own community.’”

Beginning last year, the projects done by the sisters at BYU Women’s Conference have been listed online. “We post the tutorial on the women’s conference web page so that [the sisters] can … see a picture of the project, what it should look like, patterns, if necessary a step-by-step tutorial on how to put it together, and what it’s for,” Sister Sander said. “Some people just use those to make fun things for their kids and their grandkids and that’s fine. Hopefully, they’re also looking at them and saying, ‘I can do this. Maybe on a smaller scale, but I can do this and give back in my own community.’”

Church Humanitarian Services and Feeding Children Everywhere sponsored the meal packet service project, completed during the Evening of Service on April 30 at BYU Women’s Conference. Photo by Valerie Johnson.

Women attending BYU Women’s Conference assemble “happy pillow” kits during the Evening of Service on April 30. Photo by Valerie Johnson.

Completed “take, make, and return” projects at BYU Women’s Conference are stacked up in the Marriott Center. Photo by Valerie Johnson.

Jill Lichfield crochets an edge around a baby receiving blanket at the Marriott Center during a session of Women’s Conference. Photo by Valerie Johnson.

Watching a session of BYU Women’s Conference broadcast from another building, women make Christmas stockings by hand in a service learning room on May 1. Photo by Valerie Johnson.

Volunteers sew Christmas stockings in a service learning room during a session of BYU Women’s Conference on May 1. Photo by Valerie Johnson.

Emily Peery and Kristy Bitter work on keepsake envelopes in a service learning room while they listen to a session of Women’s Conference on May 1. Photo by Valerie Johnson.