A Message  from Jan Tassie

Spring and Hope

Our theme this month is spring and hope. Patient healing and rebirth.

Jan Tassie Director, West Campus 631-632-6891  jan.tassie@stonybrook.edu

Years ago I received an email that had a picture of a field of tulips. The picture was so beautiful and the message was that the field was started by one person planting one bulb at a time. Every time I looked at the picture, I thought of how small steps matter especially if you are doing your best every day.

I was reminded of the field of tulips the other day when Melissa sent me a copy of an email she received from Linda Bily, Director Cancer Center Patient Advocacy. Melissa had delivered a new batch of blankets to the Cancer Center. Linda said she was going to be giving every chemo patient a blanket that day.

My dream has always been to provide every patient with a handmade item whatever that would bring them some comfort. It’s a big dream, I know, but I started to see it come true for the Stitchers when I read that email.

We may not see the outcome of our efforts for a long time. We just keep working towards our goals every day because we feel it’s important. So on the days you are not sure if you are making a difference, think of the field of tulips, put a smile on your face and keep moving forward knowing that what you do matters.

We hope you enjoy our new SBS Craft Corner contributed by Domenica Tafuro and Nancy Gaugler.  Domenica and Nancy came up with 2 ideas they thought would be really cute for the children. We hope the Craft Corner sparks your creativity and helps you have fun with your projects. Spring is here so try to use spring colors that will bring a smile to the patients and their families.

Take great care,


Conversation with Melissa Shampine

Melissa Shampine
Director, East Campus

Q: As the Director of the East Campus/Stony Brook University Hospital Stitchers, tell us about the beautiful hand crafted items you see?

A: Every item that is handmade and donated comes through my office, so I get to see all of the amazing hand-crafted work our volunteers make.  Below are photos of some beautiful examples.  We get hats of all sizes – from preemie to adult, they get sorted by size, and are passed along to the appropriate unit/department.  We also get prayer shawls, baby blankets, Afghans, quilts, pillowcases, sewn cinch bags in amazing and colorful prints, and we receive handmade christening outfits that are either knitted or sewn from donated wedding dresses.  Additionally, we are so grateful to Maryann Russo & Mary Ann Castrogivanni for making infant demise wraps and memory pouches, truly a special gift for families at difficult times.

In 2015, Stony Brook University Hospital was preparing for the celebration of the 100,000th birth.  The Stony Brook Stitchers were asked to contribute to the welcoming of the new milestone baby.  Of course, no sooner did I ask the group that I received so many beautiful items for the baby.

There are so many volunteers who have been with us from the beginning and new members who add wonderfully to our expanding group.  I want to thank each and every single volunteer for their continued support of our group and patients.  I can’t begin to tell you how much this means to me and the impact we have on our community.  I am touched by your enthusiasm, generosity and dedication. We are truly blessed.

Q: What would you like the SB Stitchers volunteers to know?

A: Please know that every single item donated is distributed to those who are in both our in-patient and out-patient departments here at SBUH, the Cancer Center as well as the residents of the Long Island State Veterans Home.

Q: What type of crafter are you?

A: I learned to crochet and knit while in school at Epiphany Grammar School.  Although I’m a lefty, I learned to crochet as a righty.  Now, my passion is creating stained glass and mosaic artwork.  I belong to a group called Women Sharing Art and enjoy taking classes to advance my knowledge of working with glass.

Q: What inspires you?

A: I am a Pinterest fanatic and have joined several crafting groups on Facebook.  It’s amazing because you can post a question about any hobby and you get tons of responses back.

What are Child Life Specialists and how the Stony Brook Stitchers help?

Submitted by:  Joan Alpers

Photographer: Jeanne Neville

Child Life Specialists support the specific issues and needs of medically ill children.  A Child Life Specialist is specially trained to address a child’s developmental, emotional, recreational and educational requirements throughout their hospitalization. Child Life Specialists use various forms of play and other interactive activities to help children and families better manage their medical and hospital experience. They provide daily activities and therapies for kids, host birthdays, holidays and special events, prepare kids in child friendly language for medical tests and procedures, and help support kids & families when times are rough.

Donors are an integral component in our ability to help children and families cope while they struggle with illness and hospitalization.  Some donations are monetary, some are in kind, and other are in time!  Last year, the Stony Brook Stitchers donated their valuable free weekend time for the first ever Stony Brook Children’s Prom event where hospitalized teens under the care of Stony Brook doctors enjoyed a formal evening under a beautiful party tent right at the Stony Brook Hospital!  Members of the Stony Brook Stitchers designed and crafted centerpieces & banners, prepared guest gift bags and were available that day for any last minute needs to make the day special.  Thank you to the Stony Brook Stitchers for all you do!

Highlighted Volunteer

A Message  from Eileen Zappia

My mother was a big crochet influence on me; I was 12 years old when I asked her to teach me.  I was immediately hooked.  From that point on I went on to make hats, scarves, slippers and when my sister had her first baby, I made baby outfits, baby blankets, baby hats and booties.

I joined the Stony Brook Stitchers in 2008, crocheting lap blankets for the LI State Veterans Home.  In 2009 my sister was diagnosed with kidney failure, she started to crochet lap blankets to donate to the Stony Brook Stitchers too.  A sisterly competition began; first we would choose the same pattern, start together and see who finished first.  She always won!

After my sister’s death in August 2011, I lost interest in crocheting.  It wasn’t until I saw an email from Melissa Shampine asking for baby blankets, hats and booties that my love for crochet was rekindled.  This past summer, I had open heart surgery and packed a bag with my crocheting supplies.  I happily crocheted a baby blanket while recovering in the hospital. I am thrilled to be a member of the Stony Brook Stitchers again.  I want to thank the Stony Brook Stitchers for all of the prayers and well wishes I received.  I knew I would come through the operation with flying colors thanks to all of your prayers and support.

Domenica & Nancy’s Craft Corner

Spring items needed for children ages 4-12.

Be creative, learn to work from a pattern and make something fun.

Here are two projects children of all ages will surely love:

“The Monster ate my homework!” here’s the link to a free pattern at:


For Lego lovers, here’s the link to a free pattern:


Upcoming Events

May 24, 2017 – Pediatric Palliative Care Conference – Stony Brook Stitchers have been invited to participate in the Living in Love Caregiver’s Palliative Care and Bereavement Conference. The conference will be held on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 in the Health Sciences Center at Stony Brook University. We have been given an opportunity to showcase our organization to many healthcare providers, professionals and other community organizations. We will be provided with a table to display our handcraft items. Please don’t hesitate to contact me @ jan.tassie@stonybrook.edu or Melissa @ melissa.shampine@stonybrookmedicine.edu  if you think you will have any items ready for us to display.

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

Editorial Directory

Jan M Tassie – Editor in Chief
Melissa Shampine – Editorial  Content
Margaret Cush Grasso – Assistant Editor
Domenica Tafuro & Nancy Gaugler – Contributing Writers
Adrian Ali – Design & Layout



“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

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