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Changing lives one little dress at a time

Changing lives one little dress at a time
Pascalle Bippert creates another pillowcase masterpiece to add to the “Little Dresses for Africa” pile.

Pascalle Bippert, a longtime La Vernia resident, was tuned into an episode of NBC’s “Nightly News” and found herself unnerved by the scenes being displayed. Diane Sawyer was interviewing a woman named Rachel O’Neill, who was speaking about a mission trip she took to Africa and her experiences while there. While watching, Pascalle witnessed the spectacle of the very harsh living environment and poor clothing available to the young African girls, which O’Neill realized needed to be changed.

Three months ago, Pascalle began a mission that started with O’Neill, a resident of Brownstown, Mich., an average middle-aged mother of two. O’Neill’s trip to Africa, previewed on the “Nightly News,” had changed her life and many others’ forever.

O’Neill, while visiting Africa, could not stand the “rags” the young African girls were wearing any longer. Disgusted, once back home, O’Neill took it upon herself to do something special for the girls, to better their lives in some way.

This thought sparked the idea for “Little Dresses for Africa” (LDfA), a Christian-based, nonprofit organization O’Neill created in 2007. She explained that the young girls should have something nice to wear, something they can feel wonderful while wearing. The organization makes simple but beautiful dresses out of pillowcases for the young girls.

O’Neill ended her interview with Sawyer by inviting others to join and volunteer in helping her with this cause. Pascalle took her words and ran with them. She began creating her own dresses out of pillowcases.

“Being a part of this is so rewarding; these girls have nothing and are treated horribly, never feeling beautiful,” Pascalle tearfully expressed. “These girls are so worthy of being pretty, of God’s love, and deserve to know that people halfway across the world love them.”

Pascalle’s friends, neighbors, relatives, and even strangers in the community have donated material and pillowcases along the way to help her in creating her dresses. The “Little Dresses for Africa” inspiration and community support led Pascalle to another idea and project. She wanted to make dresses for the “Team Sophie Benefit,” an event that helped to raise funds for the family of Sophie Sparks, a well-known young girl in the community fighting cancer. Pascalle completed more than 25 “Little Sophie Dresses,” raising $295 for the family from donations for her dresses.

Pascalle takes many shopping strolls to thrift stores in search of great deals on fabrics or pillowcases to sew and construct her masterpieces, enriching the lives of many young girls in Africa, who because of her now know the meaning of feeling beautiful.

Once Pascalle has completed her dresses, they are mailed to O’Neill’s organization at Little Dresses for Africa, 24614 Curtis Dr., Brownstown, MI 48134. O’Neill sends them to Africa.

To help or for more information, visit www.littledressesforafrica.org. The site presents volunteers with sewing templates, background information, pictures of the recipients, and more.

So far, Pascalle has completed and blessed girls in Africa with more than 35 of her “designer” dresses. She is always looking to combine forces and have a “great sewing party” with other local sewing volunteers.

“It takes me approximately 30 minutes to complete a dress out of a pillowcase and a little longer to complete one made out of fabric,” Pascalle said.

With a smile, Pascalle admits she is still in the beginning stages of sewing and is continually getting better. “Practice makes perfect,” and in time, Pascalle hopes to be creating more and more of her dresses.

“I love this activity; it has replaced my crayons,” Pascalle said cheerfully.

For more information, to combine forces, or to simply donate some old pillowcases to this cause, e-mail Pascalle at pascalle@lvwifi.com.

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