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Sending heartfelt support to Overland Park, Kansas

Posted: May 1, 2014

Tim Lei shows off the wonderful Feelie Heart he sewed!

A few weeks ago, JCHE staff threaded needles to sew "feelie hearts" for the residents and staff of Village Shalom in Overland Park, Kansas. The retirement community, along with a Jewish Community Center, were the site of a recent hate crime: a senseless shooting that took the lives of three innocent people. JCHE's staff feels a special kinship with those at Village Shalom and we hopeful that these cheerful hearts will offer comfort.

For over 10 years, residents of JCHE, as part of our Generations Together program, have reached out to those facing major challenges with a hand-sewn "feelie heart". These palm-size felt hearts are treasured by their recipients: Harvard and Boston University medical students who face the complexities involved in learning to save lives, and patients of Dana Farber Cancer Institute who are undergoing chemotherapy. Last spring, in response to the marathon bombing, JCHE residents made a special batch for those at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital who were managing the rigors of rehab.

A message was affixed to each "feelie heart" that said: The residents and staff at JCHE send you this heart as a token of our thoughts and prayers for you and your community. 

JCHE CEO Amy Schectman sent the following message with the hearts:

Please accept these "feelie hearts" as our expression of care and solitude with your team. Each one of these hearts has been hand-sewn by either the residents or staff members of JCHE. We are acutely aware of the trauma you all experienced in the recent tragedy there, and we want you to know that you are in our hearts.

A bit of history, about the "feelie hearts" program here: we began the program 10 years ago, in recognition that medical school training often offers clinical excellence but not necessarily compassion -- either for the patients or for oneself. So a group of women from the community began to come once/week and sew, together with our residents, these little hearts for the medical students. The feedback from the young doctors was extremely moving -- they reported that these little hearts reminded them of the humanity of their work and to be kind to themselves.

Last year after the Boston Marathon bombing, the group decided to extend our reach and make hearts for the victims who were healing at Spaulding Rehabilitation Center. Once again, the response was immediate and deep. The patients described feeling directly the love and caring of our community and it helped reinforce their determination.

We've also attached some photos of the heart-making process so you can see the loving wishes we are sending to you. We believe we've enclosed enough hearts to give one to each resident and to each staff member.

With all our deepest respect and warmest wishes -- Amy Schectman 

Upon hearing that we were making Feelie Hearts, the staff of Village Shalom sent a message of thanks. "Your offer to send "feelie hearts" for our residents is absolutely wonderful...and I think they would treasure such a "heartfelt" expression of support and comfort from a sister retirement community. Thank you for thinking of us and keeping us in your prayers -- just as we have done for your community after the Boston Marathon attack just a year ago. May our communities continue to be linked in acts of compassion and caring -- not tragedy."


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