The Stony Brook Stitchers are members of the faculty, staff, students & friends of Stony Brook University & Stony Brook University Medical Center.  The members volunteer their time, energy, and creativity to create hand-made items for those in physical, emotional or spiritual need within the Stony Brook University Community.

A Message  from Jan Tassie

Jan Tassie Director, West Campus 631-632-6891

Hello Stony Brook Stitchers,

There isn’t a week that goes by that Melissa and I don’t receive an email or phone call from someone who is interested in finding out more about the Stony Brook Stitchers. Word of mouth is a very powerful thing. We are always excited to tell people about the Stony Brook Stitchers because we feel the Stitchers are a special group of people who donate their time and skills to help people in need.

Benjamin Franklin was absolutely right when he said “if you want something done, ask a busy person.” Our Stitchers wear many hats and still make time to craft blankets, hats, christening gowns, and prayer shawls for the Stony Brook University Community.

Since the majority of our Stitchers make their items at home and just drop off their donations to us, we thought that it would be a good idea for our new volunteers to meet some of the volunteers who are responsible for getting the donations to the patients. This first edition of our newsletter introduces our core group of volunteers who have contributed to the Stony Brook Stitchers in many ways and keep things running.

In the last 2 years close to 2,000 completed hand crafted items have been donated. This number includes specialty items, yarn and materials used for some of our projects.

Patient privacy laws prohibit us from taking pictures of the patients using your beautiful hand crafted items.  We feel it’s important to let you know that all your donations are delivered to Stony Brook Hospital, the Stony Brook Cancer Center and the Long Island State Veterans Home. Your efforts mean a great deal to the patients and their families.

Melissa and I thank you for all of your hard work and wish you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holiday.

With Much Love,


A few words from Melissa Shampine

Melissa Shampine
Director, East Campus

The Stony Brook Stitchers group was started by me and Shakeera Thomas in 2008 as a way to fulfill the community service requisite that Stony Brook University asks of all of its faculty, staff and students. It was also a great way for us to share our love of creating handmade items and to pass them along to those in need.

This group has been such a wonderful blessing for me personally. I have met so many amazing, talented and giving Stitchers who so generously give throughout the year. On the hospital side, I work very closely with Sr. Lynn, our Spiritual Care Chaplain, Joan Alpers, Director of Child Life of Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, and many clinicians and staff throughout the hospital, Cancer Center and Long Island State Veteran’s Home. Throughout the years we have expanded our craft offerings to include sewn items as well. We have also been amazingly blessed to receive items from local community crafters and one crafter who sends us boxes from Fort Riley, KS!  How amazing is that?!

Jan Tassie is the Director of the West Campus group and has done a wonderful job of bringing new life to the group!  Her creative spirit and warmth are so welcome! Jan has been instrumental in bringing new groups of crafters to the Stitchers! Jennifer Wong, SBS West Campus Graduate Computer Sciences, has developed our website and Pinterest sites. Margaret Cush Grasso, SBU West Campus Transportation, is handling branding for the group. Maryann Russo, SBU School of Nursing, spearheads our sewing and computer projects.

Meet Some of Our Volunteers

Mary Ann Castrogivanni

I have been quilting for 16 years. I learned to quilt by taking a class at the public library. Through quilting, I have met and worked with many talented quilters over the years.

For over 10 years, I was a member of the Smithtown Stitchers Quilting Guild (SSQG) and served as Vice President of Programs from 2000-2002 and Publicity Chair of the 2011 Quilt Show (QE XIV).

I have been a member of the Stony Brook Stitchers for about four years now. We have made many handmade items. Some of these items include pillows for the Long Island Ovarian Cancer Education Advocacy Network & Support Group.

It has been an honor to use my talent to create beautiful items that provide comfort for the patients of the Hospital, Cancer Center and Veterans Home.

Sr. Madeline Queck , aka Sr. Lynn


I have been working at Stony Brook Hospital for 14 years.  I met Melissa Shampine when I found out about her group of Stitchers. I asked Melissa if it was possible to have the group sew customized Christening outfits for the babies in the NICU.

I started deliver the hand crafted items to the different units in the hospital. Delivering these handmade items has brought much joy over the years.

When I present the hand crafted items,  I always see a big smile on the recipients face.  I am quick to tell them I did not make it but that I am the ambassador bearing gifts.

I bring these beautiful things, which I know are made in love, to Antepartum, Labor and Delivery, Neonatal Intensive Care, Pediatric Cancer, Pediatric Intensive Care and Pediatrics at Stony Brook Medical Center.  The items bring a lot of smiles to patients  and ease their stay in the hospital.

As I said to Melissa, “people expect good care when they come to Stony Brook Medicine, but it is the little touches of the unexpected that they remember.”

Please know that you make a difference in many lives here in the Hospital and I am so very grateful that you bring the patients and their families joy.

Maryann Russo

My sewing days began when I was 9 years old in my hometown of Cinisi, Italy. After high school, I worked in a dress factory. I learned to sew dresses and worked my way to become “forelady”.

Many years later, I started working at Stony Brook University and read an article about the Stony Brook Stitchers. Sister Lynn made a request for christening outfits customized to fit around babies with IV lines. I took it as a calling to do something special for these babies and their parents.

There was another request for demise wraps and snoedels.   I took this too as a calling and designed the demise wraps which I like to call “Angel Wings” as they wrap around the babies like the wings of an Angel. The snoedels were designed with safety in mind as they would be laid next to a premie baby.

I can’t express how humbling it is to be a part of such an amazing group such as the Stony Brook Stitchers.

Some Great Works Created by our Stitchers

Halloween Theme Designs

Wonderful artworks made by Christa Carlsson. Christa lives in Fort Riley, KS, and is one of our amazing volunteers!

Thank you Christa for your donation of time, effort and supplies


Stony Brook Stitchers dedicate their time and effort to provide Stony Brook Hospital and Long Island Veterans Home with handmade christening blankets, comfort pillows, prayer shawls, infant demise wraps and baby booties.

Upcoming Events

West Campus Lunch Time Meetings:

Spring 2017 Lunch Time Stitchers Meetings…

In the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Services Conference Room, 180 Administration Building, First floor.

Meeting will be scheduled every other Thursday from 12:00 – 1:00. Scheduled meeting dates are: February 23, March 9,   March 23, April 6 and April 20.

We have a lot of donated yarn that you can use for your projects. Stop by when you get a chance to see what we have.

Hope to see you February 9, 2017 at 12:00. This is a really nice way to break up the day and meet other Stitchers.



Melissa and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our Stitchers for their donations this year especially Carol Gaskell and the Knit & Crochet Work Group in Patchogue, Ruth Marrero, Haydee Roman, Nancy Gaugler, Helen Lento, Domenica Tafuro, and Christine Cesaria.

A special thank you goes out to Alicia & Ray owners of Fantasia Bridal Center in Rocky Point for donating wedding gowns.

We would also like to acknowledge Jacqueline Pascariello and the staff in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Services for all of their support.

And last by not least…..Special thanks to Chang and Adrian for helping us getting this newsletter off the ground.

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach” – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Join Our Group

Join with other Stitchers and provide your share of care to people in Stony Brook.

“Many hands make light work” – John Heywood

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