THE CLARE ESTATE’S MEMORY CARE RESIDENTS WARM HEARTS OF OTHERS WITH HANDMADE BLANKETS
Reach Extends from Mercer County to Liberia and Haiti
BORDENTOWN, N.J., April 30, 2013 – At The Clare Estate, a fully licensed assisted living residence, the best prescription for those with memory impairments is staying socially active and helping others. Learning the art of blanket and doll-making recently achieved just that. Initially designed to promote fine motor skills and socialization, the activity has quickly evolved into so much more, yielding benefits that span the generations and continents.
Last fall, senior residents of Anthony’s Walk Memory Care Unit were being taught about the art of handmade blankets and dolls. During one of the sessions, they inquired about the recipients of their handiwork and proposed donating the fruits of their labor to HomeFront, a Lawrenceville, N.J.-based organization committed to ending homelessness and breaking the cycle of poverty throughout Mercer County. Once the first eight blankets were completed, and branded with their “every heart counts” motto, they were delivered to newborns serviced by HomeFront’s Family Preservation Center in Trenton.
“Making these works of art for a purpose has driven our residents with memory impairments to do more and experience the satisfaction of making a difference in someone else’s life,” said Alyson Mulryne, Executive Director of The Clare Estate, which is owned by Community Investment Strategies, Inc.
Motivated to continue their efforts, residents expanded their reach – across the ocean. Inspired by the personal philanthropic works of two certified nurse aides at the community, the residents set their sights on completing blankets for children in Liberia and schoolchildren in Haiti. In total, during a four-month timeframe, the residents completed a total of 18 blankets. They also plan to host a toothbrush and toothpaste drive on behalf of the Haitian school.
To offset the expenses associated with their blanket-making initiative, residents sold beaded jewelry, fashioned from recycled paper. Debbie Molinelli, Memory Care Services Director at The Clare Estate, was so encouraged by the residents’ enthusiasm that she organized a Blanket-Making Marathon in late March. With the help of local scout troops and volunteers, 18 blankets were completed in one day, bringing the total to 36, and are currently displayed on the community’s first-floor walkway bridge.
“This effort has grown from a therapeutic activity to an outreach initiative that extends to the surrounding community and beyond,” said Molinelli. “It gives our residents a newfound level of self-worth and reminds people of all ages that each of us has something to give that contributes to our own quality of life as well as that of others.”
Established in 2001, The Clare Estate is housed in the former St. Clare’s Monastery, located on Crosswicks Street. The community is staffed 24 hours a day by a multi-disciplinary team, including registered and licensed practical nurses; certified medication aides and certified nurse assistants; recreation therapists; and support staff. Residents also enjoy a host of amenities, such as medication management, planned outings to local venues, housekeeping and laundry services, chef-prepared meals and on-site physician services.
The Clare Estate is planning to host the Blanket-Making Marathon every quarter, with the next one slated for June. To donate materials, volunteer or get involved, please contact (609) 298-9960.