The gift of warmth: Volunteer’s yarn drive benefits Parker on Madison

Jackie Belfiore (third from right) created a yarn drive for Parker on Madison. She stands with, from left, Amy Hsu, Rafeena Rahmaan-Ally, Trishanne Denhart and Gwak Eun Kyuns, from Parker on Madison, and Lina Scacco, from Parker Jewish Institute.

An abundance of colorful hand-knit scarves are on display at Parker on Madison, a unique respite program through Parker Jewish Institute. The winter scarves are all thanks to the initiative of Jackie Belfiore, a volunteer who donated bundles of yarn so that Parker on Madison participants could engage in knitting, a rewarding activity.
Belfiore started the yarn drive last year after seeing a social media post of a yarn bouquet, made of skeins of yarn artfully presented as an arrangement of flowers. Knitting is meaningful to Belfiore.

Her mother knitted keepsakes for the family. Seeking a worthy place to donate the yarn, Belfiore conducted research and selected Parker on Madison.
This homelike venue in Hempstead provides a safe and stimulating environment for the memory-impaired, while also offering relief and support to caregivers and families. The program, which includes door-to-door transportation, enhances quality of life through stimulating physical, cultural and social activities that engage participants. And now, thanks to Belfiore, knitting is part of that activity mix.
Belfiore encouraged her coworkers at Northwell Health to take part in the drive. Colleagues began buying and donating yarn, and Ms. Belfiore held contests, providing a bagel breakfast to the team that collected the most yarn. With the help of her colleagues, she donated 14 bundles and 8 skeins of yarn to Parker on Madison.
“We are grateful for the thoughtful generosity of Jackie Belfiore, whose gift of yarn enables us to offer yet another social activity, which people look forward to at Parker on Madison,” said Michael N. Rosenblut, Parker Jewish Institute’s president and CEO.
Once the yarn was donated to Parker on Madison, aides who work at the venue brushed up on knitting skills and then helped the project get started.
Studies show that knitting and crocheting, a cognitive exercise, may help delay memory loss. The hobby can be social and fun, and provides a sense of accomplishment once a scarf is completed.
“The workmanship on the scarves is absolutely beautiful,” Ms. Belfiore said.
And the yarn donation is proving to be a gift that keeps giving.
“Each participant will receive a scarf for the holidays,” said Trishanne Denhart, the operations manager at Parker on Madison.

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