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.'

Cathy Kaman Ryan

Cathy Kaman Ryan

Featured Volunteer Cathy Kaman Ryan

October’s National Volunteer Spotlight shines this month on Cathy Kaman Ryan, an early member of TPP living in Rochester, New York.  Cathy joined The Preemie Project in the Summer of 2005 while the organization was still in its infancy.  Her interest developed years after the birth and death of her premature daughter, Kelly Harrington Ryan, born October 30, 1982, at 26 and weeks.  She lived only five short days but instilled in her mother an abiding sense of gratitude and appreciation for the care and skills of the hospital staff at her local neo-natal intensive care nursery.  And she has never forgotten the heartache, longing and isolation that are the hallmarks of parents caring for their precious tiny babies.

Cathy has been a lifelong crocheter and by 2005 her children and friends had more afghans than they could possibly use or enjoy.  That Summer, she began looking for an opportunity to provide blankets to a charitable organization.  She stumbled upon The Preemie Project while surfing the Internet one night and its goals and mission matched her desire to help others facing the challenges that come with delivering a premature baby.  When Cathy’s daughter was born, there were no clothes sized to fit a one pound, six ounce baby, no miniature blankets and no right-sized diapers.  Kelly was buried in a massive receiving blanket that dwarfed her tiny body.  Through The Preemie Project, Cathy relishes being able to touch parents in times of stress and crisis.

Cathy’s heartbreak losing Kelly was followed by the blessings of two wonderful children.  Her daughter, Kerry, is 25 years old and a first year veterinary student at Cornell University.  Her son, Kevin (“KC”), hopes to become a City of Rochester firefighter.  Cathy is a full-time partner in a large law firm in Rochester concentrating on a commercial real estate law practice.  She encourages people in her firm to donate hand-made articles to The Preemie Project and is a missionary spreading the word of the organization and its goals to her friends and colleagues in Rochester.  In addition to crocheting for relaxation, she also loves to read and tries to spend an hour each day working out in a local gym.

Every box of blankets sent to Iowa is sent from Cathy with heartfelt love and appreciation for the extraordinary efforts of Laura Aker and her fantastic Mom, Linda.  Cathy’s “job” is easy; she makes hand made items at her own pace and then packs and send them off to Coralville.  There the hard work begins as the Aker women and dozens of dedicated volunteers organize and collect the donations and arrange delivery of same.  In addition, they manage fund raising, correspondence and communications, website maintenance, and a thousand other details.  Cathy is thrilled to play a small part in an organization that has had such a profound impact on the lives of so many and looks forward to many years of future involvement in The Preemie Project. 


Read More About Cathy Kaman Ryan

Martha Schlicht

Martha Schlicht

Featured Volunteer Martha Schlicht

My name is Martha Schlicht.  My husband and I live near Webster, IA on an acreage.  We farmed for many years and I retired from teaching after 50 years.  I have always enjoyed making crafts, crocheting and sewing.  Two years ago a friend suggested I use my talent and time for The Preemie Project.  I have crocheted many hats, booties, gowns, blankets and just completed 100 stuffed toys.  I truly do believe God gave me this talent to help others in need.  It is a privilege to be a part of The Preemie Project and to bring love to the families in need.


Read More About Martha Schlicht

Sue Bates

Sue Bates

Featured Volunteer Sue Bates

In February 2006 I was reading the local newspaper and saw an old coworker and her family were the area March of Dimes Ambassador family.  Her son was a preemie twin born in Feb. 2004 and his sister made it for a month when they lost her.  Seeing this picture made me get on the internet and search for anyway to make the tiny hats all newborns need to regulate their body temperature.  That is when I found The Preemie Project.  I got excited to see it was in Iowa, being in North Central IL I thought hey that is close enough.  I signed up right away and started knitting as soon as I got the appropriate yarn.  I was asked to donate my items to the Michigan Chapter as it was just starting out.  So I’ve been knitting and crocheting ever since.  I try to find new and different hats to make and my knitting skills have greatly improved over the last couple of years.

I live in Ottawa, IL right in the middle of the Preemie Project chapters.  I have a wonderfully supportive husband and 2 grown sons and 3 stepson’s two of which live with us.  My husband got a kick out of my name after we married realizing I have knitting items with my name on them.  I joke it’s like being a baker with the name Betty Crocker.  I work full time for the Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development as a Technical Assistant.  I like to knit at my lunch hour at a local lake, very peaceful and stress relieving.  I enjoy the speed that hats are finished, being small they are great take along projects.  I also like to hike our beautiful state parks when I do put my needles down.

I enjoy the sense of community we have amongst the volunteers.  I lost my 12 year old niece in a tragic accident Thanksgiving weekend.  I want to say thank you to everyone for supporting me through a very difficult time.  Sara was an eager learner who had just finished her first scarf and wanted to learn how to make more for the seniors in a nursing home up the street from her house and when she got better make Preemie Hats with me.  If any one would like to donate squares or lapghans using up your “non baby” yarn, you can get more info on how to help at http://sarasmilesproject.blogspot.com.  I never would’ve known how to even dream of making her wish come true if I hadn’t signed up to be a volunteer for Preemie Project.  I’m thankful to be a part of this wonderful family of giving people.


Read More About Sue Bates

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