JF&CS News Fall 2011

"The morning cruise began with a sunny, clear sky and balmy warm wind on my boat. Receiving a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease threw me off course like a sudden and unforeseen ominous storm …"

These are the words that artist and JF&CS supporter Stepheny Riemer used to describe the quilted shoreline scene she made (pictured left) for the JF&CS Parkinson's Community Quilt Project. Stepheny was one of 20 people with Parkinson's, their care partners and adult children, and JF&CS staff who came together to create a quilt that represented their experience of this devastating disease.

The quilting project is the most recent initiative by the innovative JF&CS Parkinson's Family Support Program that has long incorporated the arts into its programming through dance and choral groups.

"The arts are healing and inspirational and we hope our programs are equally healing and inspirational. The arts are the perfect medium for our message," said Nancy Mazonson, MS, OTR/L, Director, Parkinson's Family Support Program.

Each of the project's participants met twice with volunteer professional quilters to brainstorm ideas and explore the hundreds of colorful fabrics. After deciding the square's theme, each participant created his/her own unique motif, cutting and laying out the patterns that were later assembled by Diana Kooy and Karen Mondell from DK Threads.

The designs ranged from a running dopamine molecule designed by a retired chemistry professor to a traditional Native American dream catcher (pictured right) created by the program's student intern.

"Everyone created an extraordinary square. People wove pictures out of these incredible ideas they had," said Nancy.

Stepheny is a former JF&CS board member, who, with her husband Robert, has participated in the Parkinson's dance program and monthly support groups. She felt her first tremor in October 2006 although it took a year to diagnose the Parkinson's properly.

"The process of creating this artwork together with the thrill of showing a finished square gave each participant a sense of satisfaction, wonder, reward, and power that comes with creating art," said Stepheny. "Creating art is time well spent. Everyone came away feeling they had done something worthwhile."

The quilt was unveiled at a dedication on September 18. At the ceremony, a staff member read aloud a paragraph each quilter had written about their square as it was shown on screen. Each participant received a book containing photos of all the squares with their companion stories.

"Despite the disease they do extraordinary things. We're in awe of the people who participate in our programs," said Nancy.

View more pictures from our quilting project.

For more information, call 781-647-JFCS (5327) or email your questions via our contact us page.