When Sandra Robinson walked into the Tarpon Springs library on a seemingly ordinary Friday morning, she had no idea what chain of events was about to unfold. Sandra noticed a flier that announced a Community Education day the very next day. The flier read “.. Domestic Violence: Trauma and Youth The Tarpon Springs Rotary Club, in conjunction with the Shepherd Center of Tarpon Springs, will host a Community Education Day on Saturday, February 5, 2011, to address the problem of domestic violence and trauma, and the behavioural signs of victims”. Something in the flier resonated in Sandra, in fact many of the things. She had been involved in early childhood education in her career, but beyond professional interest, Sandra had also experienced trauma in many different forms throughout her life. She not only attended the conference, but afterward,signed a sheet asking to be included in what eventually would emerge as Peace4Tarpon Trauma Informed Community Initiative. She joined the Social Marketing Committee where she quickly became a valued and committed member, providing her unique insights and input to the group.
As summer approached, Sandra would be leaving for her “other home”, in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. The group refused to let her go entirely, and she participated faithfully via SKYPE at every meeting. When some funding became available for a few “P4T” members to attend the 16th annual IVAT (Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma) conference in San Diego in September, 2011, she eagerly indicated her desire to attend representing, Peace4Tarpon, and agreed to report to the Steering Committee about the conference when she returned to her Florida home in the winter months.
In the meantime, unknown to the Committee, Sandra began working on a project. She later revealed that she began to knit and said, “It was in these quiet relaxed times that I could process what I had learned in the previous months and after the conference.” She also said, “It was during this time that I was able to prepare for the presentation that would link my learning to my past. As the knitting project evolved over the next few months what I learned not only helped me to attain some peace in my life but also challenged me to complete a project that would have some significance.”
In December, she did indeed report about the conference to the group, but something else happened that was beyond astonishing. After giving her report, Sandra announced that she had a gift to give the Committee. She then offered a hand-made bag with the. emblem “Peace4Tarpon” and inside the bag were a multitude of tiny hand-knit hats, “preemie hats.” The full story then unfolded, both touching and emotional. As it turned out, Sandra had been a “preemie” born 68 years ago to a young single mom. That was her initial life-trauma, and many more followed.
She said, “Peace4Tarpon has given me community, meaningful work and the opportunity to learn more about trauma , its causes and consequences. I wanted to give back to the Community.”
In the summer, she knit, and knit, and knit, a very therapeutic activity … until she had produced 68 hats, one for each year of her life. She said that she felt this was a way for her to “offer what piece/peace she could” as is the motto of P4T. The group was very moved as they witnessed the simple yet profound and unique way she dealt with her pain. As each passing year is different from the previous one, each of the 68 hats is different. Sandra asked that the hats be given as an act of love to local hospitals that serve Tarpon residents.
That is the story behind the hats. That is the way that one woman worked toward processing her life-trauma culminating in this simple act of giving. We hope you think of Sandra and the difference one woman can make in this world. This hat is a gift of love from Sandra Robinson..to you!