Children who find themselves in the court system often feel afraid and lost. The residents at Beverly Park Place embraced the chance to help those children with hand-stitched teddy bears.
The activities department at Beverly Park Place, a Hillcrest Healthcare community in North Knoxville, is always on the lookout for special projects for the crafts group and learned of the teddy bear program by the Knox County Juvenile Court system.
Knox County Juvenile Court Judge Tim Irwin, a longtime community leader and former Central High School and University of Tennessee football player, implemented the teddy bear program years ago to comfort children in court, many of whom are in foster care or in the middle of a custody dispute. The children pick out teddy bears to hold when being questioned.
After learning of the project and its purpose, Beverly Park Place residents began sewing bears of all shapes and colors. They realized with every stitch that their handiwork would help a scared child.
“Our residents knew that the teddy bears would end up from their hands into the hands of a child,” said Lavonda Cantrell, vice president of the Hillcrest Healthcare Foundation. “Everyone embraced this project.”
The community service project offers meaningful engagement for Beverly Park Place residents and provides comfort to a child who is facing uncertainty.
Irwin visited the residents and staff at Beverly Park Place and accepted the teddy bears on behalf of the program. He explained that the teddy bears provide hope to the children when things seem hopeless for them.
“There have been many special moments throughout my career in healthcare but witnessing these pure acts of love and kindness was incredible,” Cantrell said. “We also are grateful that Judge Irwin took the time to personally pick up the teddy bears and let our residents know how much their efforts meant to him and the children.”
Diana Fisher, BSW, LNHA, is director of business development at Hillcrest Healthcare.