VA Maryland Health Care System
Veteran Uses Leather to Sew Kindness, Compassion
During a long recovery from surgery 35 years ago, Army Veteran Richard Glasco discovered a hidden talent. Six years later, and now a patient at the Loch Raven Veterans Affairs (VA) Community Living & Rehabilitation Center, the Baltimore native still shares his talent –crafting– to help other Veterans.
Although Glasco is partially paralyzed and now bedbound, he doesn't craft just to have something to do. In fact, he struggles to keep up with the high demand for his crafts from fellow Veterans, while enjoying his other hobbies such as reading (he averages one book a day), keeping up with current events in the news, talking with his daughter and providing a listening ear and feedback to staff and patients. He explained that it's important to be kind to everyone no matter how they may treat or talk to others.
Glasco extends his positive attitude to others through his dedication to crafts. Supplied by Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV), these crafts aren't the simplistic arts-and-crafts projects we did as children. There are over 300 different kits, including leather items, suncatchers, paint-by-numbers, latch-hook rugs, poster art, plastic and wood models/crafts, and more. The crafts are used as rehabilitation devices designed to restore coordination and impaired motor skills, improve attention spans and concentration, and relax frayed nerves. They are also used for diversion therapy and as an entertainment outlet for those Veterans who are facing extended hospitalization.
Glasco is especially skilled with the leather crafts and is particularly known for the moccasins he makes for other Veteran patients who are unable to make their own. He painstakingly hand stitches quality leather goods like purses, wallets, cell phone cases and moccasins. Glasco spends about two hours sewing each item; he makes about three every day. Still, he said he receives a lot of requests from Veterans for more. He's currently the only Veteran in the Center who makes leather crafts.
"I have a special needle used to make the leather crafts," said Glasco. "[It's difficult to use because] It cuts into your hand."T he Veteran presses through the pain of the needle to share his ability and to help others.
HHV craft care specialist Sandi Kriebel, who met the Veteran more than a year ago, brings Glasco more materials for the crafts each week. "Mr. Glasco is such a very special Veteran," said Kriebel. "He has perfected working the [leather] crafts and he has a great sense of determination. He is so pleasant and a joy to talk with. For all that he goes through, he is such a positive person. He has my highest respect."
It's clear Glasco is passionate about three things: his family, reading and helping others.
Continually receiving requests for leather crafts – or as Glasco calls them, "gifts," – and a commitment to helping others, there's no sign of him letting up on crafting anytime soon. For Glasco, what started out as a simple enjoyment has turned into a way to continue serving and helping others.
The HHV crafts are given to other Veteran inpatients at the Loch Raven VA Community Living & Rehabilitation Center and at the Baltimore VA Medical Center in treatment areas where the kits are part of a designated therapeutic program.