Dispensing Love by the Yard: Nicole Hope

For her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Nicole Hope distributed hand-crocheted blankets to patients and families at Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice.

Photo by John Emerson

Going into her senior year of high school, Nicole Hope was unsure where to focus her Girl Scout Gold Award project. She already had plans in place to pursue a career in medicine at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania. Numerous ideas for her Gold Award project, the highest honor in Girl Scouts, fizzled before Hope decided to gift hand-crocheted blankets to patients and their families at Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice in Voorhees.

“It was kind of funny how this all worked out,” recalls Hope, now 18. Already active with the organization’s SamariTeens program, she began her Yards of Love project by seeking donations and help from her school, church and fellow Girl Scouts. She led crocheting workshops for church members and younger Girl Scouts. That meant more blankets—and more community engagement in Hope’s project and in Samaritan’s mission to provide comfort, support and dignity to families living with a serious illness.

“My role as an advisor was really easy,” says Sharon Wenner, youth-volunteer coordinator at Samaritan and Hope’s project advisor. “Nicole was able to outline what she wanted, and then I could help nuance that.”

Hope, who lives in the Burlington County town of Columbus, packaged 72 homemade blankets for hospice patients and their families over a six-month period. She also compiled a booklet of original poems that was included in the blanket packages and to help cheer up readers. “Patients always seem to find one [poem] that resonates with them and keep [the book] open to that page,” adds Wenner.

Through Yards of Love, Hope made powerful connections with patients and their families. She mentions a pair of brothers who burst into tears when she offered them a blanket for their mother, whom they had just moved into the hospice. “The blankets,” says Hope, “show that there are other people, who they may not know, that care about what is going on with their families.”

Hope has enlisted volunteers to continue the work of Yards of Love after she heads to college.

“Nicole is one of these people who will go above and beyond and make sure that, when someone needs something, it happens,” Wenner says.

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