Darlene Carpenter has done a little bit of everything in a lot of different places, but one constant in her life has been crocheting. A Navy spouse since she married her Seabee husband in 1980, Darlene has served as a Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society volunteer in Texas, Bermuda, Florida, Mississippi, Puerto Rico.
“I started in Kingsville, Texas, in 1984 after I saw an ad for NMCRS in the base paper,” recalled Darlene. “I thought it was something different to do, plus I crochet. Back then the Society didn’t have Budget for Baby workshops, but we crocheted shirts and gowns as well as blankets for newborns.”
In addition to crocheting, Darlene served as a volunteer receptionist and caseworker in several NMCRS offices. She served as chair of layettes at NMCRS Pensacola. “I worked with the volunteers who came into the office to get yarn. By then we’d stopped making infant gowns but made bags that the goodies went into.” Darlene also served as chair of volunteers during the family’s time in Puerto Rico.
Not only did she volunteer at every duty station, Darlene also furthered her education in a variety of cities. “I went to college every place we were stationed,” she said, “I got my associate’s degree in 1998.” She earned her bachelor’s degree in education in 2000 from Columbia College while the family was stationed at Naval Station Roosevelt Roads in Puerto Rico.
“We came back to the Seabee base in Gulfport, Miss. in 2001 for my husband’s last tour before retirement,” Darlene said. “I continued working with the baby layettes and also served as chair of volunteers for two years. But layettes have been my life. I’m always crocheting and turning in baby blankets.” Darlene has more than 15,000 hours of volunteer service with the Society.
While Darlene and her husband have settled in Gulfport, they are now raising their three grandchildren, ages three, six, and nine. “My eight-year-old granddaughter is showing some interest in crocheting. I’ve sat here with the needles to teach her how to make a chain.
If it’s not throwing a ball or fishing or golfing, my grandson isn’t interested,” she laughed.
“I like what I do,” Darlene said. “Once I turn in a blanket, I always look for babies at the base, to see if any of them have my blankets.”
Thank you Darlene for your years of service to the Society and for the countless blankets you’ve made for our sea service babies!
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso