Names: Joyce Laseter and Marta Pukinskas
Hobby: Co-leaders/organizers of a ladies sewing ministry based out of First Baptist Church in Hinesville. The group takes on sewing projects to benefit people in need.
Family: Laseter and her husband have four children, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Her husband is retired from the military.
Pukinskas and her husband have five children and four grandchildren. Her husband is also retired from the military.
What brought you two to Hinesville? Laseter and her family moved to the area when her husband was stationed at Fort Stewart.
“We stayed right here after George retired and he worked 10 years for civil service,” she said.
Pukinskas also came to Hinesville because of her husband’s military career.
“We spent 18 years at Fort Hood in Texas and after staying in the Texas heat for so long, we got to Georgia and said, ‘Well, this is it. We’re not moving!' The weather is so nice and pleasant,” she said.
Where did you learn to sew? “I started sewing when I was 9 years old,” Laseter said. “Before I got out of the fourth grade, we had a lady come once a week to teach us. Then I took home ec and was playing with my mom’s sewing machine.”
“I also learned from my mother,” Pukinskas said. “I was born in Puerto Rico and we didn’t have much money, so my mom made all our clothes. Mom would make dresses and sew for the neighbors and scraps fell on the floor. I’d pick them up and make dresses for my dolls.”
How did you decide to start a sewing group? “Well, we met at church. Right here,” Pukinskas said.
“Marta had the idea of starting a group in the church and I helped her go about getting it organized,” Laseter said.
“I had a vision,” Pukinskas said. “In the Book of Titus, it talks about women of the church leading other women, and I had a vision for the older women in church because we have so many women with so many talents. … Someone directed me to Joyce and we said, ‘We’ll pray about it and see what happens.’ The Lord just put it together so well, it was meant to be.”
How often does your sewing group meet? The ladies meet from 10 a.m.-noon every Wednesday at First Baptist Church in Hinesville.
How many members do you have? “We have about 12 who have come to meetings,” Laseter said. “But, goodness, I don’t even know how many in the church help us by working from home.”
What’s your next project? “We’ve already started on making turban-style head scarves for women who have lost their hair for medical reasons,” Laseter said. “We’re also making bags that go on the arms of wheelchairs so patients can carry belongings. It’s similar to a handbag. They’re made from placemats and other scraps.”
Who furnishes the materials for your projects? “Donations,” Pukinskas said. “The church is being very supportive.”
“One man, his wife died, and he had her sewing machine and he let us use it,” Laseter said.
Can anyone join, or is sewing experience a necessity? “No,” Laseter said. “If they don’t know how to sew, Marta will teach them.”
“I just had a college student here and we taught her how to sew dresses, and she went back to college and sewed curtains and pillows for her room,” Pukinskas said.
What’s the most special thing you’ve ever sewn? “I made one of my daughter’s wedding dress,” Laseter said. “It wasn’t traditional. It was more of a Spanish-style with tiered skirts. I didn’t have a pattern for all of it, so I had to cut and sew and hope. I made all the bridesmaids’ dresses, too, and the flower girls’ dresses.”
Pukinskas said, “I made all my children’s gowns they wore when they came home from the hospital as babies. And my daughter who graduated from Bradwell two years ago, I made her prom dress. I made her two best friends’ dresses, too.”
Why do you think it’s important to teach others to sew? “It seems like it’s a dying art,” Laseter said. “If we don’t do it, people will have to go to stores to buy all their clothing. It’s just something we’ve always had, that we need to keep going. God gives us talents. We need to use them for His honor and glory.”
“The Bible says every person has a gift to pass on, and if everyone pays attention to their gifts, we’ll really have something to pass on,” Pukinskas said.