Sue Iacovelli has always enjoyed being creative. As a retiree, she spends her time on helpful, engaging projects. While at a craft show displaying her wares several years ago, Sue noticed that some of the seamstresses were making clothing protectors for skilled nursing and hospice patients. She was inspired.
Although Sue had not picked up a sewing needle in many years, she decided to be part of the effort.
“Clothing protectors are an extension of the pride that patients and residents feel about their clothing,” Sue says. “They are not bibs, so they offer dignity as well as a way to keep attire neat and clean.”
Sue met with a member of Lexington’s volunteer department to discuss the donation of clothing protectors. While there, Sue’s daughter, Katie, walked into the room and was asked if she would like to help.
As fate would have it, Katie, who has Down’s Syndrome, loves office work – and that’s exactly the type of volunteer position Lexington had available.
Prior to the pandemic, Katie would go to hospice headquarters to carry out administrative tasks. Fortunately, both mother and daughter are still able share their time and talents from home. Sue creates cheerful wall-hangings, tea cups and holiday decorations for hospice patients, and Katie completes her office assignments with enthusiasm.
Recently, Katie was asked to participate in a project outside of her usual office duties. Kelly Rayfield, Supervisor of Lexington Hospice Supportive Services, invited Katie to paint red, white and blue stars for veterans on hospice. Sue shares that Katie really enjoyed this assignment and sat at the kitchen table with her until 10 o’clock each evening until it was completed.
Kelly says that this type of commitment and compassion is deeply appreciated by everyone whose lives they touch.
“Katie and her mom Sue are part of the heartbeat of our hospice,” expresses Kelly Rayfield, Supervisor of Lexington Hospice Supportive Services.
“Before the pandemic, Katie’s smile and sense of style were the highlight of our staff’s week. In the past year, Covid caused our office to restrict visitors, leaving Katie to volunteer from home,” Kelly says “Despite the hurdles, Katie and Sue were quick to jump in on special projects. These projects brought joy to our patients during such a difficult time. We are so grateful for their special talents, creativity and willingness to volunteers. This spirit is what makes our volunteers so valuable to Lexington Hospice.”
Sue says that staying busy creating crafts during the pandemic gives her a sense of satisfaction – as well as conveying an important message to hospice patients as well as their families.
“I want them to know that they’re not alone in caring for their loved one. A holiday decoration or painting…these are ways to connect with patients and families and let them know we are thinking of them even though we’re not there in person.”
As for Katie, Kelly Rayfield says that hospice team members are excited about her return.
“As vaccinations become more widely available, we look forward to having Katie back in the office soon.”
Interested in becoming a Lexington Hospice volunteer? Contact Kelly Rayfield, Supervisor of Supportive Services: (630)748-3716 or Kelly.Rayfield@lexingtonhealth.com. Requirements include attending a full day, in-person training session, completion of online course, TB Test, health questionnaire, background check and reference check.