Pillows Meant For Comfort And Healing

Dollie Brierly with a pillow created for surgery patients. Coco Zickos photos

Dollie Brierly enjoys providing comfort to hospital patients, especially those who have undergone abdominal surgery. That’s why she chooses to spend her free time crafting pillows designed to help ease the pain of medical procedures.

“The patients are so happy to get these,” she says showing off the moderately sized pillows that supply ample cushioning.

Coined Hug Me pillows, they are perfectly shaped for someone to hold tight and squeeze against their body in an effort to abate discomfort.

The cushions are part of an ongoing project developed some 10 years ago by the Kalaheo chapter of Kaua’i Association for Family and Community Education.

Whenever you feel hurt, you want to hug yourself, explains Brierly, who is one of the volunteer members of the organization.

The pillows are distributed to Wilcox Memorial Hospital and Kaua’i Veteran’s Memorial Hospital on a regular basis and have been well-received by patients. Nurses mainly provide them to people who undergo abdominal surgery, but they also have been distributed to others in need of comfort.

“Even little children can use them,” says Brierly.

Kalaheo Family and Community Education members

The pillows are made on what Brierly describes as an assembly line, with FCE members working sewing machines and others creating the designs and decorations. Approximately 50 to 60 of them are manufactured each year.

“We just do it, talk story, eat and have fun,” says Brierly.

“I love to craft,” says FCE member Emi Schaefer, who has been volunteering for the nonprofit for more than 50 years and created many of the pillow designs.

“Everybody’s an artist,” adds Brierly.

The volunteers of the FCE meet approximately once a month. A goal of the organization, which has nine clubs across the island, is to perpetuate community service.

Hug Me pillows are not the only way the Kalaheo chapter contributes to the island. Every month, members spend a day at Hanapepe Salvation Army preparing and serving food.

“It’s nice, you feel good,” says volunteer Maggie Honjo.

Additionally, the team made an extra effort to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible throughout the year. They now bring their own plates and utensils from home when they meet rather than creating unnecessary rubbish with plastic silverware and paper plates.

Even though all the members are retired, they are “busier than ever,” says Brierly. The Kaua’i native even makes time every morning to volunteer with Meals on Wheels, and she participates in community work whenever and wherever she can.

“When you retire and you do things, it keeps you much healthier,” she says, adding that everyone should get involved. “There is so much you can do for the community, even on your own. Just go out there.”

“Don’t worry about yourself; don’t think about yourself so much,” agrees 92-year-old FCE member Bernice Kubota.

“To do something like this is very satisfying,” adds Brierly, who enjoys Latin line dancing when she isn’t volunteering. “To see somebody with a happy face makes me happy.”