Cypress Cove at HealthPark Florida’s volunteer group – Caps for Kids – has reached the momentous milestone of completing its 20,000th cap for use by a child undergoing surgery at nearby Golisano Children’s Hospital.
“I’m so very pleased to be part of this meaningful moment of giving,” notes Caps for Kids chair Audrey Blomquist. “It makes all of our volunteer team so happy to help a child and their family during such a stressful period.”
The program, which began in October of 1999, is a spin-off of a program called Sew Angelic that was started that same year by Lee Health RN and pediatric specialist Sandi Falk. Her friend, long-time hospital volunteer and Cypress Cove resident Jane Andrae offered Falk the help of a team of volunteers from the nearby Life Plan community.
Caps for Kids (a name given by Andrae) was soon formed and have since donated their time to create surgical caps for children at Golisano Children’s Hospital.
Fabric for the caps (required for patients during surgery) is purchased by Lee Health. Volunteer staff at Lee Health cut the fabric into circles and then Cypress Cove’s Caps for Kids team assemble the elastic-banded caps. Fabrics, explains Blomquist, are printed with bright, cheery colors and figures – such as cute animals, funny fish, smiling dolls, etc.
There is nervousness with stomachs churning for both children and parents as surgery time nears. But some of the nervousness suddenly vanishes when nurses bring out a hatbox filled with colorful cloth caps and patients are invited to take their pick. Nurses and doctors join in the fun, selecting a cap to don. Suddenly the operating room doesn’t seem so scary to the child or parents.
A group of more than a dozen Cypress Cove resident volunteers participate each month in assembly of the caps. Those residents with sewing machines hem the circles and another crew of volunteers gather once a month to thread elastic through the hems. The latter work, notes Blomquist, becomes a social event.
Cypress Cove’s volunteers produce on average 1,000 caps each year. The organization is part of a large contingent of residents at the beautiful 48-acre Life Plan community that donate their time volunteering for on and off campus projects. “More than 180 residents provide a combined 13,000 volunteer hours each year,” points out Executive Director Michele Wasserlauf. “Cypress Cove generosity comes in many forms and our Caps for Kids program is one of several meaningful volunteer gifting programs that we participate in with Lee Health.”