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Producing Pillowcases and Smiles

The brightly colored pillowcases, covered with flowers, fire trucks and cartoon characters, immediately captured Shirley Spaeth’s attention at a quilting show last year.

Producing Pillowcases and Smiles

Resident Shirley Spaeth spearheaded the pillowcase project at The Waterford after getting the idea at a quilting show. Photography by Debbie Rosenburg. (Copyright Lifespace Communities. Used with permission.)

“They were made for children in the hospital,” says Spaeth, a resident of The Waterford, a Lifespace community in Juno Beach, Florida. “That gave me an idea that maybe we could make those here at The Waterford.”

Spaeth and another resident, June Kleeman, approached Life Enrichment and Enhancement Director Leenie Holgate, who helped them organize the program.

Residents raised nearly $800 to buy fabric with whimsical designs like dinosaurs, horses, zoos and bunnies. Then 40 volunteers set up a production line with some residents folding and sewing and others washing, ironing and packaging the pillowcases.

In all, the group at The Waterford crafted 100 pillowcases and donated them to Ryan’s Cases for Smiles, a nonprofit founded in 2007 to help children cope with the trauma of serious illness. The organization distributed the pillowcases to six local hospitals.

“When children are in the hospital, it’s often a very scary thing,” Spaeth says. “Pillowcases have a very important role in helping children accept what’s happening and get through it.”

Children get to take the pillowcases home after they leave the hospital, Spaeth says.

Cindy Kerr, founder of Ryan’s Cases for Smiles, says the pillowcases will help children find the strength to make it through difficult times like chemotherapy treatment.

“We can all smile knowing what an impact we’ve made in all these people’s lives,” Kerr says. “I am humbled to work alongside volunteers who share their love for children battling cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.”

Spaeth and Kleeman’s enthusiasm for serving the community outside The Waterford is typical of Lifespace residents. The Waterford volunteers plan to make a second batch of pillowcases this year, and another group of residents is using pillowcases to make Easter dresses for children.

“Everyone here is very invested in making sure that we give back to the greater community,” Holgate says.