Volunteer gives to others in her own time of need

JONESBORO --  Struggles are the threads of life.  At least that's the case for one Jonesboro woman.  When some people would find themselves at the end of their rope, Thyda Lee Fryer has found a way to toss them a line--even while her lifeline would appear to some to be unraveling.

"Thank you for coming out," said Thyda Lee Fryer to June Morse, Executive Director of HopeCircle.

It's pick-up day.  June Morse stops by to check on 89-year-old Thyda Lee Fryer and take one of her latest creations, an afghan, to cancer patients helped through HopeCircle, a charitable organization established by NEA Clinic.

"It's such an amazing experience to go visit with her," said Morse.  "You always come away with, well, I not only come away with an afghan, I come away with such a wonderful, uplifted spirit because of her.

Despite being tethered to an oxygen machine 24 hours a day because of emphysema and asthma, Thyda Lee looks at life with a sense of purpose.

"I'm not as fast as I used to be doing this," said Thyda Lee as her fingers work to with rapid-fire motion to knit a perfect row in the afghan she's working on at the moment.

You'd never know Thyda Lee suffers with glaucoma and recently battled cancer in her kidneys.  She just keeps working away--knitting and crocheting baby booties for patients at Arkansas Children's Hospital and more than 20 afghans for HopeCircle.

"The weakness is the worse part of this all," said Thyda Lee.  "Sometimes I'll feel so weak and I'll think I don't know if I can finish this or not.  And then I'll think...well it just takes on stitch at a time."

A hairdresser for more than 57 years in Jonesboro, it was hard for Thyda Lee to slow down because of illness.

"I was so sick and I had a few pity parties." said Thyda Lee.  "I could hear my mother say well, you may not be able to everything, but you can do something."

And her spirit of volunteerism emerged.

Giving is as much a part of her life as the loops of her afghans--closely intertwined are the moments Thyda Lee struggles with her own health...and the need and the want to help others facing cancer.

"She considers every day a gift," said Morse.  "She wants to make the most of that gift everyday and that's what HopeCircle is all about.  That's what we should all be about it making the most of everyday and she does that in an exemplary way."

Bringing light to the days of cancer patients facing treatment with her vivid color combinations in afghans, Thyda Lee says she likes to think that maybe--just maybe--someone would do the same for her.

"I can imagine myself under circumstances like that," explained Thyda Lee.  "And how good it would feel to know somebody cared."

Caring about others --even in the midst of her own pain, Thyda Lee Fryer, you are a very special volunteer.

If you'd like to learn more about volunteering through HopeCircle, just call 870-934-5214.  There are many volunteers needed to do a variety of things.  You can even learn to crochet like Thyda Lee!  There's a volunteer teaching crocheting and knitting two times a month.