Lillian Weber has no plans of retiring anytime soon.
Matter of fact, by May 6, 2015, when she’ll celebrate her 100th birthday, Lillian Weber hopes to have sewn and donated her 1,000th handmade dress for young girls in Africa.
Lillian begins 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.
It is reported in Africa that girls wearing a new little dress are much less likely to be abducted, abused, or molested because the new little dress shows that someone cares about them.
Each dress takes four hours for Lillian to complete from start to finish, and it’s been her daily hobby for the past three years. To date, that has amounted to a whopping 855 dresses!
Lillian Weber, Role Model
Along with investing in her family, Weber said the dresses are now 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
“I never get tired of looking at them,” says Rachel O’Neill, founder and director of Little Dresses for Africa. “She likes to do the little extras, and believe me, [the little girls] love it.” O’Neill will personally deliver some of Lillian’s dresses to Malawi later this month.
“She’s my hero,” O’Neill says. “When someone like Lillian goes the extra mile, it shows.
Lillian’s daughters help by cutting out the fabric, and Lillian takes it the rest of the way. “She can 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 makes the dresses because it helps her stay busy and staying busy keeps her out of a nursing home. She says she has 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 a cool role model.
Lillian Weber is the kind of woman I want to be when I’m 99! Do you know of another senior who is making a difference?
10 Ways To Make A Difference through Little Dresses For Africa.
Update: Lillian Weber died on the eve of her 101st birthday on May 5, 2016.
“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