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Feeling the Love from Feelie Hearts

Posted: May 16, 2012

Last night I attended the year-end event for the “feelie hearts” club at Coleman House.  This is a program where CJP Women’s Philanthropy volunteers meet weekly with Coleman residents. Together they sew red felt hearts to put into the pockets of medical students to help remind them of the humanity of their patients – or give them to cancer patients from Dana Farber. These feelie hearts would appear to the untrained eye to be “no big deal” but then you’d be missing the layers of meaning that the users attach to the gift—I learned that last night!

Two of the CJP volunteers—Laurie Garnick and Kimberly Berliant described their own experiences coming to Coleman weekly and how they have developed such meaningful relationships with our residents.  They shared notes and emails from medical students describing the importance of receiving a token that honored their reasons for pursuing medicine.  That’s a perspective that I hadn’t considered!  Laurie and Kim are so committed—in fact, I learned with joy last night that Kim is actually going to start a feelie hearts club at Shillman House in the fall!

Two Coleman house residents—Rose Mandell and Bea Goodfader – also spoke about how much they valued the friendships they had made and the impact they have on the future of the medical profession (while that may sound extreme, if you read these emails, you wouldn’t think so).

Other highlights of the evening were:

  • Ann Levin’s talk as outgoing president of Women’s Philanthropy (BTW, both Laurie and Kim got involved in feelie hearts only because Ann recruited them).  Ann’s been on our board since before I started and has always been a solid contributor of ideas and suggestions, but hearing her at this event really shone a light on why she received a serious leadership award from CJP earlier this spring.  Among the many women in the audience cheering Ann on was Merle Grandberg (former President of WP and current chair of our board), and JCHE board members Laura Efron and Helen Kass.
  • Penny Goodman’s remarks as incoming president of Women’s Philanthropy reminded me of her kindness and leadership qualities that I had the privilege of experience on my recent trip to Dnepropetrovsk trip (BTW, Alison Kaprove and Marcia Leifer from the trip were there to cheer her on, too).
  • Jessica Hammermesh, our Director of Intergenerational Programs, spoke beautifully and meaningfully about the program and about her vision for intergenerational programs. She stressed the characteristics of these programs: both age groups come together to help a third and they are based on developing ongoing relationships, not one-time hits.  Jessica took over as director recently but her clarity, leadership and enthusiasm could not have been stronger or more impressive.

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Comment by barbara friedman | 05/19/2012

Beautiful article/blog Amy. How nice that you attended - your visible support for these programs makes Jess a lucky director!
Barbara