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Volunteers stitch patients' stress away

by: KAITLYN MORRELL - Volunteer Sewing Ladies include (from left) Marci Clark, Agnes Stiles (in background), Gert Pearson, Ann Borski and Mayme Kidd.

At Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center on most Tuesday mornings, a group of volunteers, ages 74-88, gathers to “solve the world’s problems” while sewing items for the patients.

One recent day, the group informally referred to as the “Sewing Ladies” was busy discussing “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Bachelor” while catching up on each other’s life updates. They sit in an assembly line, crowded around a table full of cotton, fabric, thread and colorful ribbons.

“It’s not gossip,” one assured, “it’s an exchange of information.”

Last year, the Sewing Ladies created 3,441 pillows, 1,141 stuffed animals, 1,305 eyeglass cases and 60 passage quilts for patients at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center in Gresham. Typically, these volunteers make about 100 pillows and 35 animals per week. Often, they take projects home to keep up with the high demand.

“We enjoy making things for the patients,” said volunteer leader Ardis Johnston. “We have a lot of fun down here.”

After a grateful patient’s death, family and friends gorgeously donated $400 in her honor to the hospital’s Volunteer Guild for the sewing projects and to recognize how meaningful these items are for patients and the families.

As a bargain shopper, Johnston clips weekly coupons while hitting the sales at the fabric stores, for fun fabrics and supplies. In addition, she spent years taking the old sewing machine to and from the repair shop.

When they received the $400 in donations, the women decided to allocate a portion of the fund for a new sewing machine.

“We wanted to continue touching the lives of others in memory of this patient,” one sewer said. “These pillows and animals brighten their days.”

Kaitlyn Morrell is manager of volunteer services and the gift shop at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center.