A needle and thread might be just the tools needed to stitch hearts together in Willmar, MN.

It is fun to watch a sewing class where the students and teachers are sewing, talking, laughing and having a sweet time together.”

Melissa Scheele founded the Rey’a Community Arts sewing program in 2017, and since then she has watched great friendships form through the 8-week sewing class.

This one-on-one teaching program held at the local Children’s Museum, is a part of Arrive Ministries’ expansion of programs into Willmar. Women from six Willmar churches are paired as sewing tutors with local Somali women.

The school years starts in September; after the first sewing lesson, they take a class field trip to pick out fabric and go out for dinner.

“All of the volunteers love the students and the students love the teachers. It is fun to watch a sewing class where the students and teachers are sewing, talking, laughing and having a sweet time together,” said Melissa.

Many teachers and students even meet outside of class to form deeper friendships. The community sewing program provides a space for cross-cultural and interfaith relationships to develop naturally in non-threatening ways, with mutual love and respect.

“You can tell by watching the tutors and students that they really care for each other and there is genuine relationship,” said Melissa.

The lessons are very interactive. Even the mayor of Willmar’s wife, Ginna Calvin, who is a master sewer, volunteers at every single sewing session since the program began.

The six local churches involved in the program donate all of the money needed to buy the $1,200 sewing machines.