Crafting for the Community

A group of crafty Johns Hopkins Medicine employees donates handmade items to comfort patients, community members.

Crafting for the Community
Published in Community Health - Community Health Stories

Johns Hopkins Medicine lab manager Carol Cooke loves to knit. She says being part of an established craft group composed of Johns Hopkins Medicine employees has given her a place to donate her plethora of hats and socks. The items the group makes are donated to several organizations, and put smiles on the faces of patients and community members.

“I like that I can try new techniques,” says Cooke. “I can make a hat or socks rather quickly, and I know they’ll make someone happy. It’s fulfilling to know when I make a hat, it won’t just sit in the closet.”

“Knitting can be relaxing, and I like that I’m doing it to help someone,” adds Paula Mister, an educational coordinator in the Johns Hopkins Hospital microbiology laboratory. “There’s a satisfaction you get from doing more than just your job every day.”

Mister says the craft group was formed after Johns Hopkins Medicine pathology employees chatted about their love for knitting, crocheting and sewing. Some members have also been involved in their churches’ craft groups for years.

After forming the group, Mister contacted several organizations to determine their needs. The group now regularly donates to the Hackerman-Patz Patient and Family Pavilion, the Johns Hopkins Breast Center, Addiction Treatment Services’ Comprehensive Addiction & Pregnancy program, and Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House at Johns Hopkins.

Handmade items like lap blankets, scarves, gloves, hats, toddler-size blankets, adult-size blankets, and socks are always appreciated by these organizations.

“Our group has about five regular contributors. We need more volunteers,” says Mister. “The great thing is that you know that what you’re making will help someone in a more personal way.”

Mister says the group can provide patterns, yarn and guidance if needed. Currently, they don’t have regular meetups, but prospective volunteers can always reach out to see what items are needed. She says the group is also looking for more organizations that would like to receive the handcrafted donations.

Michelle Steely, residential living operations manager at the Hackerman-Patz Pavilion, loves seeing the smiles on patients’ faces when they see the group’s beautiful gifts. Steely places the donations in the lobby, and guests can help themselves.

“It can sometimes be an emotional moment,” Steely says. “Many of our patients tend to lose their hair and tend always to be cold. Having these warm items is such a help. The employees’ dedication and commitment to supporting patients and families speak volumes.”

The Hackerman-Patz Pavilion provides short-term housing for adult patients with cancer and their care partners. It houses patients for three nights, or as long as they need housing and are in active treatment.

Danna Gildersleeve, Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House at Johns Hopkins director of operations, says there’s something extra special about a homemade blanket.

“They’re made with a little extra love,” Gildersleeve says. “We put the items in our lobby, and the families will take the blankets and hats to keep them cozy.”

Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House at Johns Hopkins is run independently by the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation. It is dedicated to providing overnight accommodations and meals for pediatric patients in treatment at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and their families. The organization houses about 15 families each night.

“It’s their home away from home,” says Gildersleeve. “We rely heavily on volunteers to help us fill in the gaps and provide the best experience for the families. I am so grateful that this group takes the time to handmake the items. It’s extra special.”

To learn more about the JHM craft group, please email Paula Mister at [email protected].