By Janet Wetzel
Lynn Bell learned to sew as a child, using an old treadle machine to make clothes for her baby dolls. That was 50 years ago. She's still making baby clothes, but they're now for real babies.
And this is not child's play for the west Middletown mother of five children and two stepchildren, who is helping raise two of her four grandchildren. She spends 50-60 hours a month making 75-100 pieces of newborn clothing.
She does her sewing for the West Chester branch of the Southwest Ohio Region of Touching Little Lives, an Ohio-based charity for needy premature and newborn infants. Bell and other volunteers make everything from sleepers to receiving blankets, T-shirts, booties and quilts, which are delivered to Middletown, Hamilton and Cincinnati area hospitals.
For the past 15 years, she's been an emergency medical technician (EMT) with the Madison Township Life Squad, logging hundreds of hours a year on runs. Bell, whose husband, Tom, is the township fire chief, said she's trying to limit that because of so many other commitments. But she still rolls out of the bed at all hours of the night for squad runs.
Bell, 57, who retired from teaching at Middletown City Schools in 1996 after 27 years, still does substitute teaching at Middletown and Madison schools.
Despite her family obligations and her job, she always makes time for volunteer work, including 19 years of being a 4-H adviser. She's adviser for the Madison Outlaws 4-H Club, which works mostly with horses.
"It's very time-consuming, especially from March until the Butler County Fair the last of July," she said. "We work several hours a week then, and I love every minute."
Judy Palmer said she's known Bell for years, and she's always the same - helpful, kind and loving.
"She's just a terrific lady," Palmer said. "She gives far more of herself than she ever gets from others."
Bell said she just has to help.
"I was a single mom for years, and the people in the community have always been there for me. I just have to do my share now. Kindness goes around quite nicely," she said.
Do you know a Hometown Hero - someone in your community dedicated to making it a better place to live? E-mail Janet Wetzel at firstname.lastname@example.org, or fax to (513) 755-4150.
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