Atkison spreads hope, comfort through knitting

By DAISY WASHINGTON / Community Columnist

Jeani Atkison’s volunteer role in the community has spanned several decades.

For about six years she taught Sunday School for elementary age children at Evangel Presbyterian Church. Her family was one of the founding families for the Alabaster church. The church’s humble beginning started in 1980, and in 2006 the current building on Thompson Road in Alabaster was purchased.

A member of Shelby Christian Women’s Club, Atkison served on its board of directors for 21 years. The organization addresses the spiritual needs of women through Bible study and provides emotional support and fellowship opportunities through luncheons. Jeani creates name tags for the attendees by her own unique design. Each luncheon event features a speaker who presents on a specific topic related to women.

“It is a good place to meet Christian women and provides an opportunity to form friendships and participate in Bible studies and fellowship,” she said. “Due to the pandemic, the event has remained in suspended status.”

After her success in defeating breast cancer in 2015, Atkison founded a ministry for Knitted Knockers in Alabama (the second Knitted Knockers to be established in the state). The organization makes prosthetics for women who have had their breast removed due to cancer.

“I made myself a pair by obtaining the pattern for the prosthesis from the KnittedKnockers.org website,” said 72-year-old Atkison.

The goal of the charity organization is to supply free and accessible knitted breast prosthetics to women in need. The ministry supplies Shelby Baptist Medical Center and Forge Breast Cancer Survivor Center at St. Vincent’s East facility with prosthesis which are distributed to mastectomy patients free of charge.

“I just want to reach as many women as possible,” Jeani said.

Her team of eight crotchetiers and knitters work many hours to meet the demands for the prostheses. Half of the team are regular knitters. The organization is currently working on servicing a women’s clinic in Montgomery.

As an extension of her crocheting craft, Jeani creates and distributes stuffed toy octopuses for the preemie unit at St. Vincent’s hospital. Designed with unique tentacles which allow infants to grasp, the concept is that the stuffed toy animal gives the illusion of an umbilical cord which provides a sense of security and comforts a crying infant.

Jeani has been married to Michael for 51 years, has two children and three grandchildren. She was employed as a substitute School teacher at Kingwood Christian School and oranges and operated a children’s consignment shop.