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A lost vocational art

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  • A lost vocational art
  • A lost vocational art
    Surrounded by the tools of her trade and some of her projects, Sandy Reynolds works with a sewing machine. CONTRIBUTED

The large number of college graduates owing thousands of dollars in student debt is truly worrisome. And many have trouble finding gainful employment in their fields of study. And perhaps we are finally coming to our senses about the importance of vocational and technical training

Home economics, shop and agricultural classes were a part of the curriculum of high schools in our area and all over the state. Many residents remember learning how to use agricultural equipment, shop tools and sewing machines during their school days.

College is not for everyone. Well-paying, stable jobs are in demand for those trained in vocational skills, and this can be accomplished without acquiring massive student debt.

The prospects for employment are good here in Lake Country for electricians, dental hygienists, mechanics, landscapers, equipment operators, HVAC technicians, culinary workers, truck drivers, physical therapists and various other technical trades.

What started me thinking about this topic was my recent need for a skilled seamstress -- someone skilled in making alterations. (My wife sews but this project was more than she wanted to take on.)

I discovered Sandy Reynolds, a Lake Country seamstress who is truly adept at her vocational trade.

Sandy spent her childhood in Carthage, Missouri, and resides between Rutledge and Newborn in Morgan County. Sandy and her late husband Ray once worked in Miami putting machines together for Leggett & Platt, a diversified manufacturing company.

The couple later moved to Social Circle and were involved in a variety of businesses to include developing a house cleaning company. Sandy also drove a school bus for the Morgan County School System for 25 years and still has her CDL license. Ray became known as “The Peanut Man,” selling peanuts from a stand near I-20. He passed away last year.

This industrious grandmother now owns her own business named “Sandy’s Sewing and Alterations,” located in The Madison Flea Market building at 1291 Eatonton Rd. in Madison.

Customers come from Madison, Eatonton, Greensboro and Milledgeville as well as Covington, Conyers and Monticello. Sandy also sews for those who live as far away as Arizona and Florida. Her customers just keep coming back.

Sandy has been sewing since she was eight years old and continues to do incredible work. She alters expensive wedding dresses, evening gowns, tuxedos and jeans; replaces zippers and cuffs; makes adult and children’s clothes; and works on band, law enforcement, and military uniforms. Last year alone, she finished 64 prom dresses and countless alterations to all kinds of clothing.

“I sew for teachers, retail stores, dry cleaners and individuals—as

many men as women--whatever they need to have done,” said Sandy. “Sewing is a lost art and I don’t know why. If anyone wants to get into it, the business is there. You can make money even as a Middle Schooler, simply by learning to cut the bottom of jeans off straight and charging $5 a pair.

Incidentally, Sandy’s pricing for her impeccable work is quite reasonable and she even gives away clothing to children in need. This hardworking seamstress is a great conversationalist and it’s quite evident that she loves people.

The good news now is that a number of schools in our state are returning to agricultural, industrial and vocational classes. According to the Georgia Department of Education, “Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) is preparing Georgia’s students for their next step after high school--college, beginning a career, registered apprenticeships, or the military. Georgia CTAE pathway course offerings, and the new Educating Georgia’s Future Workforce initiative, leverage partnerships with industry and higher education to ensure students have the skills they need to thrive in the future workforce. CTAE offers students more than 130 career pathways within the 17 Georgia Career Clusters.”

We are fortunate to see this increase in vocational training and to have industrious citizens like Sandy Reynolds living and working in Georgia’s Lake Country.