Epworth UMC member ministers through monogrammed towels


By Kara Witherow, Editor

Suzy Revell sometimes gets strange looks as she unloads her shopping cart at Kohl’s. The same thing happens when she shops at Wal-Mart and Kmart. 

Revell, 63, an active member of Epworth United Methodist Church in Columbus, frequents these stores to buy bath towels in bulk.

“I sometimes buy 20 towels at a time and I get some funny looks from cashiers,” she said. Because she buys towels in several different colors, “they probably think I have funny decorating ideas!”

The stares and inevitable questions and comments don’t faze her, though.

“It gives me an opportunity to share my ministry,” she said.

Her ministry is one that got her dubbed “the towel person” by the folks at Columbus’ Open Door Community House. 

A retired child abuse investigator for the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services, Revell has a heart for children and a passion for serving others. When she retired in 2003 she knew she wanted to continue to serve children but wasn’t sure in what capacity.

An avid sewer and crafter, she bought a monogram machine, and, with that and her background working with children, a ministry was born. 

Every month since January 2008, she has given a personalized bath towel on their birthday to each child participating in Open Door Community House’s Mathews Promise Academy.

An after-school and full day summer academy focused on spiritual growth, reading development, academic enrichment, and more, Mathews Promise Academy serves children who live at or below federal poverty guidelines.

Revell also personalizes towels for children at Our House at Carpenter’s Way Ranch, a ministry of the Methodist Home for Children and Youth. She’s been doing towels for them since 2007.

“This is my way to serve the children in our community,” Revell said. “I know how important it is to have something with your name on it and for it to be spelled correctly and be yours.”

Many of the children served by Open Door and the Methodist Home don’t have much – or anything – of their own, and the towels became a way to give them something of their very own and to celebrate who they are.

“This became a way for her to give to them in a way that said, ‘You, as a unique person, are cared about uniquely and deeply, and I want to show you that in this way,’” said Kim Jenkins, Open Door’s Executive Director.

Revell never sees the children who receive her towels. She makes them, drops them off, and quietly leaves, but she’s fine with that. She’s a quiet, humble servant, happy to work behind the scenes and let someone else – and the ministries themselves – have the spotlight.

She couldn’t avoid the spotlight, though, when Open Door’s staff named her “Volunteer of the Year” this year and recognized her commitment to serving children.

“We see so much of who she is and her heart and her passion for the children that we serve here,” Jenkins said. “People recognize the commitment she makes to these kids each and every day through this ministry. She truly loves each and every one of these kids.”

Revell personalizes about 150 towels each year. She keeps meticulous notes in a spreadsheet, detailing the colors of the towels and thread and the font she uses on each towel she gives to ensure that children don’t receive duplicates.

The married mother of two and grandmother of four doesn’t accept donations and has never considered the cost of the ministry. To her, it’s just what she’s called to do.

“I am doing this for the children,” she said. “It’s important to the children and it’s important to me.”