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Changing lives one stitch at a time

Michelle Ooley will be the first to tell you she's no expert. But her 20-year passion for sewing has mended a hole she didn't know she had in her heart.

MINNEAPOLIS - Michelle Ooley will be the first to tell you she's no expert. But her 20-year passion for sewing has mended a hole she didn't know she had in her heart.

"He called me and wanted to know if I could help him out and I said of course. I've never been so sure about anything in all my life and all the different things I've done for jobs or whatever, I've never felt this satisfied with what I'm doing."

It all started a few months ago when Michelle, whose day job is with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, decided to join some co-workers volunteering her sewing services. She met a man named Jim who needed a repair that would take extra time...time she was willing to give.

"I said, now it's not perfect, but it zips, and he said 'I still can't believe you did this for me.' And he started to cry. And he said can I give you a hug and he said this has never zipped for me before."

Mobile Menders was born.

Michelle organized a few women to do some mending at Union Gospel Mission. Then she asked a few neighbors. Then a reporter from Minnesota Public Radio called.

"At that point, I had 17 volunteers and now I have 109 as of Saturday and I'm now working with 11 different organizations to help do the mending."

Eleven organizations like Dress for Success and Salvation Army's Hope Harbor.

"The smiles on their faces when they talk about it is proof in the pudding."

"I feel like the Mobile Menders team and our residents really benefit from each other and it's a really great way for everybody to grow," said Shanna McIntosh of the Salvation Army.

Michelle says beautiful things come together one stitch at a time. And she called up Jim to tell him he was the inspiration for that.

"I said I want to let you know what's happened. I want to let you know you've changed my life. He started to cry and I started to cry. It's been an absolute whirlwind of the last four weeks. I can't get over the amount of enthusiasm people have for this. My hope is that inspires other people in other communities, not only in Minnesota but all round the country."

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