Lillian Weber had no plans of retiring.
Matter of fact, by May 6th of 2015, by the time family and friends celebrated her 100th birthday, Lillian Weber had sewn and donated her 1,000th handmade dress for young girls in Africa.
Lillian began a new dress every morning at her home in the small town of Bettendorf, Iowa, to benefit Little Dresses for Africa, a Christian registered 501c3 nonprofit that sends dresses overseas to impoverished girls in Africa and beyond, including America.
She soon discovered that her very popular dresses were much more than clothing. Reports were received that the girls wearing the new dresses were much less likely to be harassed or abducted on their way to draw water because they obviously looked like someone cared for them. The sense of honor and pride was planted in the hearts of the young girls. (source)
Each dress took Lillian four hours to complete from start to finish, and was her daily hobby for three years.
Lillian Weber, Role Model
Along with investing in her family, Weber said the dresses were a big part of her life’s mission. “I think that’s very important to have something different for these little girls,” she says. “I imagine four or five of them standing in a row, and they got a little dress on and they’re all different.”
“I feel the good Lord has given me this to do.” ~Lillian Weber
The people at Little Dresses for Africa, named Lillian their ‘sewing celebrity.’
Rachel O’Neill, founder and director of Little Dresses for Africa said, “She’s my hero. When someone like Lillian goes the extra mile, it shows.”
Lillian’s daughters helped cut out the fabric, and Lillian took it the rest of the way. “She could thread a needle at 99; I can’t thread a needle and I’m not near that old,” said Linda Purcell, one of Weber’s daughters. “She made the dresses because it helped her stay busy and staying busy kept her out of a nursing home.”
She had no intention of slowing down or retiring.
Lillian’s pattern is super easy. Here are 5 more patterns that are similar in design.
“If I’m still able to do it, I’ll continue all the way through because I know I’m making little girls happy. And that is very, very important to me.”
What a better place this sad world would be if all of us who were able-bodied said ‘No’ to retiring to the TV set or some other inwardly-focused pastime and decided to re-tread to serve others. Oh, that our hands would be used to love a neighbor, near or far, as we would want to be loved ourselves.
What an amazing, solid role model.
Lillian Weber was the kind of woman I want to be when I’m 99!
Lillian Weber went to the Lord Jesus on the eve of her 101st birthday on May 5, 2016.
Find more on Little Dresses for Africa on Facebook here. They are still sending dresses!!
You can learn to sew and teach your children, too! Here are some helpful links:
- Sew Mama Sew, “Seven Essential Sewing Skills“
- Martha Stewart, “Sewing Basics“
- Martha Stewart, “Easy Sewing Projects“
- Teaching Your Child To Work With Her Hands: 4 Benefits of Early Training
“Our hearts of stone become hearts of flesh when we learn where the outcast weeps.” ~Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” ~1 John 3: 16-18