Summer vacation for teens usually means hanging out with friends, spending time outdoors and taking a break from work. One local student spends her summer doing something very different.
Annalyse Dissinger, daughter of Dave and Adrianne Dissinger of Findlay, changed her summer plans when she and her mother were asked to do some sewing for a program designed to help women at risk, making clothing for an organization called Dress a Girl Around the World. Providing dresses to girls in need, many who have never had new clothing, each dress takes a minimum of three hours of work.
In addition to a special label that identifies the dress, the garment is hand delivered to each recipient. Annalyse says “a transformation takes place,” not only do the girls receive something new to wear, they gain confidence and self-esteem. The dresses serve as an important symbol that the girls are cared for and can be a deterrent to predators. Annalyse was so taken with the program, she wanted to do more.
Setting (and meeting) big goals
At the beginning of her summer break in 2016, Annalyse planned to create 25 dresses to donate, but that number grew. Her days were filled with the routine of waking up, sew, eat, sew and go to bed. Her friends would contact her to do things, but she usually told them she was too busy. At the end of the summer, she had reached her goal of 100 dresses.
Over the past two years, Dissinger and her mother have organized about 100 volunteers during four community sewing days and inspired fellow members of a fashion board to implement sewing days of their own. To date, Annalyse and Adrianne have made 250 dresses themselves.
Making an impact
Dissinger, who will be a senior this fall at Sugar Maple Lane Christian Academy and also takes college classes at Owens Community College, was nominated by her English Professor, Tim Rice, for the Board of Trustees’ Extraordinary Community Engagement and Volunteerism award. Rice said after Annalyse won the award, “I nominated (her) for the award because I was touched by her willingness to assist others less fortunate than herself. She epitomizes the notion of community service that is often lacking in society.”
Dissinger and her mother personally delivered 25 dresses to an orphanage in Haiti late last year. The experience sparked two more interests in the teen: she is considering studying education and possibly teaching in Haiti, and she has begun making and selling headbands as an ongoing fundraiser for that orphanage.