a hand-sewn "heart for hospice" - similar to a pillow-style Christmas ornament sits on an old wooden table

Sew Lovely: The Hearts for Hospice Program

Lisa Olko is a Hospice of the Piedmont (HOP) nurse. During the week, she uses a stethoscope to listen to hearts. On the weekend, she picks up some fabric and makes them.

Lisa has found a unique way to extend her support to patients and their families by creating the “Hearts for Hospice” program. She brings together volunteers to craft fabric hearts—a small yet meaningful token of love for those in hospice care.

Picking Up the Thread

The idea sprouted from Lisa’s experience working at HOP’s Hospice House, where a local cross-stitch guild donated hand-sewn hearts to patients and families. The hearts became cherished gifts.

Heart for Hospice - You Are Love Design
Heart for Hospice – You Are Love Design

As Lisa explains, “We would have the families choose one, and we’d hang it on the doorknob when the patient was actively dying so that everyone would know it was a sacred space. When the patient passed, the family members took the heart home as a memento.”

During the pandemic, the tradition paused, prompting Lisa to pick up the needle herself and continue making these hearts from vintage fabrics found in the Hospice House attic. That was four years ago. “I just never stopped sewing them,” she adds.

Stitching Together Stories

For Lisa, sewing is both a meditative act and a means of stress relief. More importantly, it’s about the impact these small hearts have. “These quick projects bring so much joy and comfort,” she says. Patients and their families are reminded they’re cared for, a sentiment that lasts long after their loved one has passed.

a Heart for Hospice with a butterfly design
A Heart for Hospice with a butterfly design

Lisa recalls giving a heart adorned with butterflies to a patient who had a special connection to them, unbeknownst to her. “She always told her family she’d come back to them as a butterfly,” Lisa shares.

Coincidences like this can make the hearts even more significant. Lisa says that oftentimes, and understandably so, tears are shed when the heart is presented and given to the patient or the patient’s family. And, that’s all okay.

Growing the Sewing Circle

Lisa’s venture into sewing these hearts isn’t just about the patients; it’s about bringing the community together.

“I wanted to find a way to go into the community, spread awareness of hospice, and unite community members. I approached Tonya, the director of Earlysville Exchange, and she loved the idea, especially after Covid when we were so isolated,” says Lisa.

The “Hearts for Hospice” program exemplifies how small acts of kindness can make a big difference. It’s an invitation to the community to come together, contribute, and support those facing life’s final chapter.

An Opportunity to Participate

To that end, Lisa is pleased to invite sewing enthusiasts of all levels to join her on April 6th, from 10:15 am to 11:15 am, at Earlysville Exchange (4006 Earlysville Rd, Earlysville, VA 22936).

Whether you’re new to sewing or have years of experience, your participation is welcome. Supplies are provided but feel free to bring your sewing kit. If you’d like to sign up for the day, you can do that via the Earlysville Exchange website or by emailing Lisa@sewingsacredthreads.com.

To stay up to date on future events, visit Lisa’s website: https://sewingsacredthreads.com/