PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Dolores Dean with 50 of the 300 pillow cases she and her friends made.
BY MICHELE DURGIN
LYNN — For Dolores Dean and her friends, making pillowcases is a labor of love.
The ladies turned the Union Club in Beverly into a pillowcase factory last weekend with 40 women setting up sewing machines in space donated by the club.
The crew spent the nine hours creating 300 pillowcases. All of their creations will be donated to the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers and the Shriner’s Hospital in Boston.
Each pillowcase is inside a clear plastic bag with a note that reads, “Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. This pillowcase was sewn especially for you by Audrey’s Amazing Army, in memory of our mom, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend.”
When a patient is admitted to either one of the facilities, which offer specialized care, including hospice and dementia treatment, they get one of the handmade pillowcases as a welcome and wish for the best.
“We had Care Dimensions provide services to my mom, just before she passed in February, 2014,” Dean said. “She wanted to be home throughout her illness, and they were wonderful about coming here to to take care of her. Their counselors were especially great with my son, Samuel,who was seven at the time. He was very close to his grandmother, and they made everything so much easier for him to handle and accept.”
Soon after Dean’s mother died, she began to clean out her apartment. Her mom had been an avid seamstress and Dean said she found a ton of fabrics during her cleanout. She wondered what she could do with all of the material and was adamant that it would not go to waste. She set the material aside and vowed she would put it to good use someday.
Not too long after, Dean was thumbing through one of her many quilting magazines and saw an article titled, “ The Million Pillowcase Challenge.” The article explained how volunteers had gathered to create colorful pillowcases to be donated to medical facilities that specialized in end of life care.
“I knew in that moment what I was going to do,”Dean said. “Shortly after, I assembled a group of about 50 people, which included friends and family, and we all went to work. Before I knew it, we had made about one hundred pillowcases to be donated.”
Dean said the pillowcase sew-a-thon will become an annual event and she’s grateful to the group of volunteers who helped out last weekend in Beverly .
“My sister, Doreen, came up from Louisville, Kentucky to help out, along with my good friend Melanie Maynard from Fitchburg,” she said. “So many terrific people were here to help out and have already volunteered for next year. Most of them have a connection to the Kaplan House and are happy to do this for them.”
Doreen Rogers, Dean’s sister, said she enjoyed helping to sew the pillowcases. She enjoyed the sense of camaraderie shared by the group and talked about the special feeling in the room full of sewers who were all working for a wonderful cause. She was especially moved, during a break in the sewing, she said, when everyone gathered around the finished pillowcases and prayed for those who would receive them.
“We had a great time together,” Rogers said. “Everyone in the room was committed to the goal. There was such a sense of pride in the room. When someone would yell out, ‘Number such and such is done’ everyone would clap and cheer.It was a special feeling, knowing who were creating these pillowcases for. I hope we do it again.”