Comfort Pillows for Breast Cancer Patients: Attorney Collins’ Teen Group Joins With Ridgefield Woman’s Club

Ridgefield Woman's Club members Joan Stefura and Karen Heidinger with the young women of the Lion's Heart Class of 2020 Red Group. They worked together to make comfort pillows for breast cancer patients.
Ridgefield Woman’s Club members Joan Stefura and Karen Heidinger with the young women of the Lion’s Heart Class of 2020 Red Group.

Cramer & Anderson Partner Jennifer Collins connected her Lion’s Heart teen service group with the Ridgefield Woman’s Club for a volunteer initiative to sew handmade comfort pillows for breast cancer patients at the Praxair Cancer at Danbury Hospital.

Attorney Collins, who works in the firm’s Danbury office and lives in Ridgefield with her family, was inspired to reach out by a photo and note published in The Ridgefield Press about the Woman’s Club project to make and donate 200 comfort pillows for breast cancer patients each year.

“Two members of the Ridgefield Woman’s Club graciously agreed to come to our first monthly service meeting since the start of the new school year and assisted the Lion’s Heart girls in assembling the comfort pillows for women recovering from breast cancer surgery,” Attorney Collins explained. “They pre-cut the fabric using their pillow templates so the girls could efficiently stuff and then simply sew the pillow seams on portable sewing machines Joan Stefura and Karen Heidinger brought with them to our meeting location. Their charitable energy was such a great example for these teen girls.”

“We were absolutely ecstatic to share the project with Jennifer. The girls were eager, energetic and enthusiastic,” Stefura said of the Lion’s Heart teens. She and Heidinger helped the Lion’s Heart group members complete 10 to 15 pillows in a single session.

The girls in the Lion’s Heart Class of 2020 Red Group, including Attorney Collins’ daughter Jillian, are high school seniors. As part of their Lion’s Heart participation, they complete at least 25 hours of community service each year. 

“We thought it was great working with them. Everyone left with some knowledge. It is a wonderful thing and such a hands-on sharing of skills,” said Stefura, whose  sister died of breast cancer, which makes the comfort pillows project especially important and poignant for her.

The Woman’s Club has been making breast cancer patient comfort pillows for more than 15 years, according to Stefura, who has been a club member for 12 years and involved in the pillow initiative for the past five years.

“The thank you notes we receive are so wonderful. The women are so appreciative to have the pillows coming from someone who knows what they’re going through,” says Stefura.

The Woman’s Club works with Cancer Center Navigator Joanne Ballerini at the hospital, and is now also making comfort pillows for the orthopedic department. 

Stefura and Heidinger make the equivalent of pillow kits for Woman’s Club members, assembled in part from donated cotton fabrics, and then the club holds periodic stuffing parties in members’ homes. 

The comfort pillows for breast cancer patients are just one of many volunteer initiatives for the Ridgefield Woman’s Club, a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), the world’s largest organization of woman volunteers. New members are always welcome, Stefura notes.

A poster for the 2019 Ridgefield Woman's Club craft fair, being held Nov. 23 at East Ridge Middle School. The Club and Attorney Jennifer Collins' Lion's Heart teen group worked together to make comfort pillows for breast cancer patients.
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The Ridgefield Woman’s Club engages in service initiatives that include providing scholarships to Ridgefield High School seniors, and organizing member participation in the Evelyn Peeler Children’s Holiday Gift Fund, and has begun participating in the Soles4Souls initiative, among other efforts that add up to club members collectively donating an average of 7,000 hours of volunteer service each year.

The Ridgefield Woman’s Club’s 49th Annual Craft Fair, its largest fundraiser, is coming up Nov. 23 and the Lion’s Heart group members have volunteered to help at the event. 

“If you want to make friends, volunteer,” says Stefura.

It’s a sentiment shared by the young women in Attorney Collins’ Lion’s Heart group, part of a nationwide organization founded in 2004 in California. The Ridgefield Class of 2020 Red Group has members from Ridgefield and Danbury, and the young women have an app on their cell phones or computers to keep track of the service hours they log. 

The volunteerism can help them become eligible for a President’s Volunteer Service Award, play a part in National Honor Society membership applications, and have a positive impact on college admissions profiles.

Prior to the breast cancer patient comfort pillows project, Attorney Collins’ group repurposed children’s stuffed toys as safe toys for dogs via Glad Dogs Nation kits, donating the toys to Ridgefield Operation for Animal Rescue (ROAR), among other efforts.

About Attorney Collins
Cramer & Anderson Partner Jennifer Collins had her Lion's Heart teen group work with the Ridgefield Woman's Club to make comfort pillows for breast cancer patients.
Attorney Jennifer Collins

Attorney Collins, who celebrated 20 years of practicing law in 2018, has long experience in achieving positive outcomes for clients in Personal Injury LawSocial Security Disability and Workers’ Compensation cases.

She couples her work with a focus on community service, while acting as an advocate for those in need of understanding and assistance.

Reach Attorney Collins by email at jcollins@crameranderson.com and by phone at (203) 744-1234.For more information, see the website at crameranderson.com or call the New Milford office at (860) 355-2631.