If You Love Cute, Comfy Pillows and Yucatán, We Have a Deal for You

Yucatán Magazine has commissioned a special pillow to benefit the nonprofit organization

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Men in recovery hand-embroider beautiful pillows for sale. Photo: Patricia Robert / Yucatán Magazine

You know what they say about idle hands. This program keeps a group of 30 young men busy, and beautifully embroidered pillows are the result.

The men are residents of a drug rehab facility in the city’s south. Sales of the pillows support the shelter’s operational budget.

Yucatán Magazine has commissioned a specially designed pillow inscribed with a flower or bird accompanied by the words “Me Encanta Yucatán.” We assume our readers who love Yucatán won’t require a translation into English.

Yucatán Magazine has commissioned this pillow, which can be ordered for MX$500.

Of course, they are all unique, special, and made with care. The commission is the brainchild of YM creative director Trey Speegle.

The pillow is custom-ordered for MX$500 by contacting hola@yucatanmagazine.com. Local orders only.

Centro de Apoyo en Adicciones y Emociones “Contando con un Amigo” is a Mérida-based charitable organization that provides residential rehabilitation for young men recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. The Threads for Change program, in which the residents work on a variety of embroideries, was started and is run by Annie Walwyn-Jones and Murdoch Morrison.

Hand-embroidered pillows for sale take on unexpected theme. Photo: Patricia Robert / Yucatán Magazine

They don’t have any experience in needlework. Still, many seem to derive significant benefits from the disciplines involved and from the associated opportunities for self-actualization and artistic expression that this exercise involves. The work they produce is, at times, provocative and exceptionally well executed. While many are meant as gifts to their families, they also create art for sale to pay for their stay at the shelter. 

Founded in February 2021, Contando con un Amigo is a comprehensive 12-step residential rehabilitation for up to 30 men.

Men in recovery hand-embroider beautiful pillows for sale. Photo: Patricia Robert / Yucatán Magazine

In the last year, three recent pop-up shops included one outside the Slow Foods Market and one at a private party sponsored by Yucatán Magazine and hosted by photographer Patricia Robert. Together they raised MX$17,000, which goes far in a bare-bones shelter like Contando con un Amigo.

Yucatán Magazine sponsored a pop-up sale of hand-embroidered pillows created by the residents of a drug rehab facility. Photo: Patricia Robert

If embroidery and drug rehab sounds like a strange mashup, Murdoch has found otherwise.

“We had read that embroidery was used extensively after World War I to help men suffering from the stress of shellshock, but we were very unsure how our initiative would be received by the individuals at the center, each of whom spends between three and six months in the rehab program,” Murdoch says.

“As it turned out, we were astonished by the enthusiasm with which they greeted the project: none of the participants had any experience with sewing, but they showed a genuine passion for making embroidery, apparently relishing this opportunity for self-expression: they stitched away with surprising focus and dexterity, and seemed to want our classes never to end.”

The Threads for Change program, in which drug-rehab shelter residents work on a variety of embroideries, was started and is run by Annie Walwyn-Jones and Murdoch Morrison. Photo: Courtesy

Many of the young men proudly send their first completed pieces back to their families and loved ones, Murdoch recalls.

“But we were so impressed by the unexpectedly high quality and the directness of their designs that we wanted to find a way to commercialize their work,” he continues.

Threads For Change takes their finished embroideries and appliques them onto cushions or pillows or onto wall hangings so that they can be enjoyed by a wider public. All of the proceeds help pay for the MX$150 per day it costs to care for each of the center’s residents. 

Men in recovery hand-embroider beautiful pillows for sale. Photo: Patricia Robert / Yucatán Magazine

It has been hugely gratifying to us to see how warmly people respond to the often-quirky, original designs the men come up with: and even more gratifying to see the pride and pleasure on the faces of these young men when we go back tell them that they have been able to make a difference in raising real money for their center, all with their own handwork.

Contact anniewalwynjones51@gmail.com for more information.

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