Providing therapeutic products for children with cognitive and physical disabilities

Lord, you know I can’t sew, right?


Sue is the founder of CYH

Sue is the founder of CYH

Lord, you know I can’t sew, right?

As Clap Your Hands celebrates two years of community service, I am humbled by the journey of how this all began.

In the Spring of 2013:

“Do you love me?” were the words that flooded my mind each night at 3:00 a.m. Waking up in the middle of the night for weeks was getting old fast. I thought was this menopause? Was this my new normal? Will I ever sleep through the night again?

“Do you love me?” The question was like a constant ringing in my ear. Why that question? After many failed attempts at trying to get back to sleep I slipped downstairs to pray. “Lord, you know I love you. What do you want me to do?”

An amusing thought came to my mind, “Buy a sewing machine”. I actually giggled at the thought of buying a sewing machine.   Do they even make sewing machines anymore? I thought the only people who still sewed were hippies and cults. Where would I even go to buy one of those dinosaur machines?

Over the next few days I pondered the answer to my question. Each night I continued to wake up at 3:00 a.m. and each night my mind was flooded with the same question, “Do you love me?”

Again I left the comfort of my bed to go downstairs to pray. “Lord, I don’t sew, I have no desire to sew, and I’m too old to learn to sew”. Now I’m not seriously old, but too old to try something I have no interest in learning. I thought my arguments were valid, but when I became quiet the voice was steady and constant, “Buy a sewing machine”.

The next day I casually mentioned it to my husband, “I think God wants me to buy a sewing machine”. My husband looked confused and said, really?

We both chuckled and feeling a little embarrassed I stated, “I believe He wants me to buy it for someone else”.

The very next day Ron came home with an $85.00 brother sewing machine from Wal-Mart. I promptly brought it upstairs to our office, and waited on God to give me a name.  

Sweet sleep, lasted only a few weeks, and then the 3:00 a.m. call began again. I tossed and turned until I finally gave in and went downstairs. I was so sure I was obeying God’s call to action. I went downstairs to pray. “Lord, I bought the sewing machine; I’m just waiting on you to give me a name.” Of course I was more respectful in my prayer, but in my heart I was pondering these thoughts. When I finally fell silent, I heard the voice in my head say to me, “Open the box” I actually opened my eyes and looked around. Who is He talking too? Me? Again and again the voice repeated, open the box. Open the box. OPEN THE BOX!

The next day I brought the sewing machine back downstairs and opened the box on my dining room table. I remember looking at the sewing machine and thinking, we will never be friends. I took out the owner’s manual, only to be frustrated that I couldn’t understand the directions. I put it all back in the box, but something kept pulling me back to that machine. So I did what any mature adult would do, I started to whine, “I can’t do this”.

A new thought came to my mind, Google it. How to sew on YouTube. What a great invention. I had never watched YouTube before, but what a great help for someone who needs to learn visually.

The first lesson, How to thread your machine. I seriously watched that video 87 times. I remember thinking I’m going to be in my 80’s before I finally learn to sew something.

Now what? I could sew looped material into my granddaughter’s pants to help her with dressing independently. Maybe I could start my own business? I had no real plans, but that never stopped me from having big dreams. Forget the fact that I could barely thread this machine. I asked my granddaughter’s therapists if they needed me to make them anything that required loops.


They began sharing the needs of the special needs community. They desperately needed therapeutic products that they could offer the children to comfort and calm them down, especially during stressful situations. They asked me if I could I make a weighted blanket. Ummm, my first thought was no, sorry, just loops. Then I Googled it. How to make a weighted blanket. I practiced on almost all my pillowcases, until I felt I got it right. I became obsessed with trying to learn new ways to make therapeutic products for the children in our local community. I asked all my friends if they wanted to help. My mother, (who is 87 years old), had not sewn in 50 years, but she decided she wanted to help and bought a sewing machine of her own.

God gave me exactly who I needed to help begin this process of making therapeutic products for children with cognitive and physical disabilities. My TEAM is multi-talented and amazing. My core members, Roxene Bacon, Cheryl Elliott, Rocio Abrams, Pat Moran, Cathy Burnett, Bj Grooms, Vanessa Hensel, Hazel Alford, Robbie Bray, Rex Porter, Jean Griggs, and Vanessa Murphy. We have many seamstresses and ladies who crochet, and who have been a tremendous help to us. We are so grateful for each and every one of them.

We work very closely with our licensed therapists in making the best product possible for each child in matching with their diagnosis.

One year from the day I received my first sewing machine I was teaching a free class at JOANN Fabrics in Summerville, on how to make a weighted blanket. A year and a half after I began Clap Your Hands we became a non-profit organization.

We have been asked to come and speak about Clap Your Hands all around the Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester areas.

In the two years since we began Clap Your Hands we have donated almost 1,000 products to local therapists, families and schools in the Tri-County area of The LowCountry.

I say this not to brag, but to state that if God has a plan for you, He will make it happen. He will provide the people, the money, the skills, and a way. All I did was say, YES.

My granddaughter is my inspiration. At one time they had told us she may never clap her hands, yet she claps every day for herself and others. Hence the title of our non-profit, Clap Your Hands.

We applaud our families, our therapists, our teachers and our community. Together we can make difference where we live.

Sue Desautels

By |2015-08-20T00:57:53+00:00May 23rd, 2015|News and Notes|Comments Off on Lord, you know I can’t sew, right?

About the Author:

I am Sue's husband and I am thrilled to support Clap Your Hands any way I can as Sue and her CYH TEAM are the best as they put so much energy and compassion in all they do for the children and their community.