CLARK — After a friend who had been receiving hospice care passed away, Clark resident Nancy Robinson made a contribution in her honor. A short time later she received a newsletter from Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Care Center (BHHPCC) located in West Orange. One special story caught her eye – a request for volunteer designers to make handcrafted “Memory Bears” for grieving families whose loved ones had passed away while receiving hospice care.
“I wanted to do something meaningful and personal,” says Nancy. “When I read about the Memory Bear Project, I knew that I could sew and thought this would be a good way for me to give back to the community. I contacted Spiro Ballas, senior volunteer coordinator for BHHPCC, and made arrangements to train with other volunteers and learn how to cut, sew and create Memory Bears from clothing that had belonged to patients – everything from flannel shirts to favorite handkerchiefs. It is so rewarding to hear of the comfort these bears bring to family members.”
The busy mother of two teen-age sons, Nancy works part time and is vice president of the Arthur L. Johnson High School PTA in Clark. She picks up Memory Bear projects in the evenings at BHHPCC and explains that, “One night Spiro handed me a Superheroes for Hospice flyer. He wanted to know if I knew of anyone who was interested in comics to take part in special comic book fundraisers that would benefit BHHPCC.” Nancy remembers, “I certainly did – my husband Ray!”
“I got involved through my wife,” confirms Ray Robinson, chief technologist in the Nuclear Department at Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center. “As a comic book collector, I would have gone to the shows anyway, and as a volunteer, it’s a great way to support the work of BHHPCC. I help Spiro set up for the shows. Our 15- and 17-year-old sons also volunteer their time sorting the comic books and setting them up in boxes to put on display.”
The public is invited to attend the comic book shows and it’s a great way to buy the comics at reasonable prices Ray explains. Some comic books are used, many are in mint condition and others have been signed by the artists. People are also encouraged to donate comic books, become volunteers and meet comic creators at the shows. Fans can get autographs and sometimes even a sketch of a favorite character.
“These are great activities for a good cause,” comments Ray. “And,” Nancy adds, “Our sons have learned that they too can give back to the community.”
For more information about the Memory Bear Project or Superheroes for Hospice, contact Spiro Ballas, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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