Volunteer Spotlight Archives

A group such as The Preemie Project would be nothing without a dedicated group of volunteers. We feel lucky to have so many amazing people from all walks of life trying to help our organization. With each newsletter, we try to highlight different volunteers. This is the archive of those highlights. To each of you, please accept our heartfelt 'thanks.'

Kathleen Plond and Cherie Warner

Kathleen Plond and Cherie Warner

Featured Volunteer Kathleen Plond and Cherie Warner

January’s Michigan Volunteer Spotlight shines this month on two terrific women who have recently agreed to coordinate the Michigan Chapter of TPP.  Cherie Warner and Kathleen Plond bring unique creative talents sprinkled with wonderful humor and fun.  Their creative spirits and dedication are noteworthy.  Spend a moment getting to know these two extraordinary women.

Cherie Warner has been married for 27 years with two sons. One has graduated from college, lives in New Jersey and works in Manhattan,  Her second son is a college sophomore in Boston.  Left at home are her four cats.  She has been a life long crafter, sewing, knitting, crocheting and cross stitching.  Add to those talents her part time assistantship to her Church’s Music Director, her role as Director of the Children’s Choir, her singing and flute playing and her spare time spent reading and gardening and you have one very busy woman.

Kathleen Plond has been married for 19˝ years with a 16 year old daughter, Ashley, a Junior in High School, and a 12˝ year old son, Brandon in 7th grade.  Her household also boasts a dog and a cat.  Kathleen is now a third grade teacher having “graduated” to third grade with the same second graders she taught last year.  She teaches in the after school tutoring program three days a week and is the Secretary for her daughter’s Choir Booster Club.  With all of those commitments, she finds time to knit hats and sometimes blankets and hopes to resume sewing teddy bears for bereavements if Santa can find time to fix her out-of-commission sewing machine…or maybe bring her a new replacement.

Each of these women came to TPP through online searches.  Cherie was looking for someplace to donate her baby hats knitted to use up her yarn stash and was attracted to our Michigan chapter.  Kathleen was looking for something to engage her hands and mind after completing her master’s classes.  She loved how quickly preemie hats knit up and thought it was some small payback for her preemie daughter’s time spent “under the lights” years ago.

Our Michigan co-chairs knit in their spare time to relax and keep busy.  Kathleen knits on weekends and when watching games or movies on television but also when she is stressed.  She forces herself to knit 2 or 3 rows before she takes that first sip of wine.  Cherie loves to start her day in her knitting chair, cup of coffee at her side watching a Turner Movie Classic and to end her day in that same knitting chair with a beer and a Red Wings hockey game on television.

Cherie enjoys making items for little ones, anticipating the smiles that will be on the faces of moms and dads.  She often promises to make a blanket for donors who give her yarn.  Blessed with God given ability to be able to craft creations, she strongly believes that she should give back in some small way.

Kathleen gains a little selfish pleasure from her involvement with TPP.  When she is knitting, she isn’t eating or drinking and she is relieving stress.  As a Michigan contact person, she relishes a different role from those of mother, wife and teacher that occupy much of her time.

What a pair of fascinating women who have stepped forward and agreed to lead the Michigan chapter.

Read More About Kathleen Plond and Cherie Warner

Nancy Miller

Nancy Miller

Featured Volunteer Nancy Miller

Please meet our dynamo Iowa Volunteer in the Spotlight—Nancy Miller.  Nancy is a one woman powerhouse who moves at warp speed.  A knitter since college, she is a devoted member of TPP and we are so lucky to have her and her enthusiasm in our midst.

Nancy and her husband live in Manchester, Iowa having come back home after 45 years away.  Drawn back to the town she grew up in, she cares for her mother (who is 98, blind and lives alone) and is the designated drive for the “Plus Ninety Club” which includes her mother and Mom’s friends.  For fun she teaches painting classes.  The Millers have a winter home in Queen Creek, Arizona as well.

      Blessed with a terrific family, Nancy has a son in Sioux City, Iowa, another son in Chandler, Arizona, a daughter in Portland, Oregon and ten terrific grandchildren (nine grandsons and one “completely unspoiled” granddaughter).  This is a delightful blended family with five natural grandchildren, two permanent foster kids and three adopted children.  In Nancy’s words, “They come in all colors and sizes and ages and we love each one.“

Nancy’s charitable involvement was born years ago after she lost a younger brother in Viet Nam, lost a third son shortly after birth and had a grandson in NICU at UIHC sixteen years ago for three weeks with a lung infection at birth.  In those times and for those events, families sat in crowded waiting rooms and talked or cried.  She remembers the incredible sadness of losing a baby…and a brother in a long ago war…and not talking about these events with anyone.  She came out of this “black hole” of her life with a passion to help others in similar situations to feel better.  Her uterine cancer diagnosis and subsequent surgery in 2006 gave her that gentle push to volunteer for an organization involved with babies and TPP is the richer for her involvement.

Nancy has spent most of her life knitting and is an absolute whirlwind.  She loves to make crazy and wild hats with fun trimmings and never makes two that are alike.  Some of her delightfully crazy hats are fashioned from different flannels and feature booties to match.  She knits at ballgames, in the car and in the evenings.  Last Summer, she created eighteen hats while sitting at softball and baseball games and didn’t miss a pitch.  In one week in November, she knitted three hats at the high school football playoffs, saw every play and even managed to eat some popcorn.  Now that’s talent!!  She hasn’t yet brought her knitting to church but she’s contemplating it.

Creating memories for babies who die (or who might die) was very hard at first, but Nancy can now do so without feeling badly.  Having been a lifelong volunteer, she always gets back more than she gives.  Helping other people is her mission in life.  If you see a flash of speed, love and energy burst through the door, you can bet it’s Nancy.  What an inspiration!!

Read More About Nancy Miller

Lynda Connell

Lynda Connell

Featured Volunteer Lynda Connell

We are delighted to introduce Lynda Connell as the first National Volunteer in the New Year 2009.  Her dedication to TPP and its mission exemplify everything that TPP has come to mean to so many people.  A personal connection to a seriously ill child…and a loving niece who encouraged her “Aunt Lynda” …gave rise to Lynda’s involvement with TPP and this month she celebrates her first anniversary as a member of the group.

Born in Muscatine, Iowa, (located about 34 miles from Iowa City), Lynda spent almost all of her life (or at least the first 60 years) in this small town.  Two years ago she relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska where she is the Director of Marketing for RE/MAX Central Region which includes Iowa and Nebraska.  She is the mother of two grown children.  Her daughter, Christy, lives north of Grand Island, Nebraska with her husband, Keith, and Lynda’s first grandchild, Cole.  Her son, RJ, lives with his wife, Amber, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where both are employed at UIHC.  She now shares her home with her two cats, Ozzie and Sylvia.

Lynda’s creative talents include both knitting and crochet but she tends to crochet for TPP.  Having learned both crafts as a teenager, they lay dormant for years until she reacquainted herself with both for TPP.  Lynda’s niece, Jen, re-awakened her aunt’s interest in needlecrafts after she introduced Lynda to Ravelry.com.  (She is auntlynda on Ravelry).  Jen also told Lynda about TPP.  Prior to that, close friends of hers from Muscatine gave birth to a son who suffered with severe medical problems spending time in the NICU.  Through her friend’s blog, she learned of the seriousness of his situation and the extraordinary care he received in the hospital.  The stress and the sorrow of his worried parents struck a nerve in Lynda and when Jen later introduced her to TPP she thought about creating hats and booties, infused with love, that might bring to families facing such tough situations some much needed smiles.  With that mission, she began making hat and booties striving to make each set as cute as possible.

Lynda enjoys working in front of television and she has started a “Sit ‘n Stitch” through her local church which gives her additional opportunities to work on her projects.  She also takes her creation bag with her when she travels for work and often passes evenings spent in hotel room immersed in her creative work.

Having given so much time and effort to TPP, Lynda derives much pleasure from brightening the days for anxious parents.  In making a difference in someone’s life, she has found incredible enjoyment in her re-introduction to her craft.  And like so many TPP volunteers, Lynda believes it is important for her to serve others and to show them that they are loved and cared for in some of life’s most difficult circumstances.  TPP is fortunate to have her as one of its dedicated members.

Read More About Lynda Connell

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