NEW YORK - On the fences of East Harlem's Cherry Tree Park are messages of thanks and of hope. The words and images are crafted in yarn by Carmen Paulino who learned to crochet from her mom and grandmother.
"Yarn brings some type of theraputic feeling, you bring it to seniors, you bring it to children, it's a beautiful thing," Paulino said.
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Paulino is a mother of two who also teaches crocheting at senior centers. One project has nine pieces and took a week to complete. It's arduous work but when she needs inspiration she looks to her husband, FDNY EMS Paramedic Michael Paulino.
"It kind of inspired me to say thank you to everyone that uplifts this community, that keeps the community going," Paulino said.
Carmen isn't the only person doing this in the neighborhood. There is another group of fiber artists who also crochet to spread some joy.
A large banner on 97th Street and Second Avenue near Metropolitan Hospital was made by a group of five lead by Naomi Rag, who is a yarn bomber. Think of yarn bombing as kinda like yarn grafitti.
"I saw down at some of the other hospitals Downtown that they have laminated signs, and I said we can crochet, why don't we try and do something like that," said Naomi Rag, a fiber artist.
"We started all together to make hopefully one sign of sunshine for everybody at the hospital," said Meridith Lampert, a fiber artist.
The team worked on individual pieces on Zoom calls and came together to put it up. Alisha Soto says the work helped her through the illness of her 88-year-old grandmother Ada Acosta, who survived the coronavirus.
"We had a really rough few months but this group was an amazing treaure because I was able to give back to the community and feel like I did it for my grandma," Soto said.
The Yarn Creations are getting rave reviews from neighbors, on social media and from folks on the frontlines of the pandemic at the hospital.
"It's amazing, it's a boost of morale when people walking by so it helps out a lot," said one Metropolitan Hospital employee.
"It shows that there are still people in New York who care about New York," said one East Harlem resident.
And care about the people who have kept it going during this pandemic, one thread at a time.