Carol DeGrazia

Volunteer Carol DeGrazia stitches memories for families

San Mateo resident Carol DeGrazia has been sewing and crafting since she was a child. She’s stitched clothing for herself and her children, gifts for friends and family members, quilts, and much more.

She’s found some of her most meaningful sewing as a Mission Hospice volunteer, by creating memory bears and memory pillows for people who are grieving. Carol creates these special pieces using fabric or items of clothing from loved ones who have died – she says pajamas, t-shirts, and other soft fabrics work well.

“It takes an extraordinarily generous and kind person to know what a grieving person needs at the time of deep sorrow,” says Bereavement Coordinator Isabel Stenzel. “The tactile experience of hugging can be so comforting; Carol’s bears and pillows are a tremendous gift to our families.”

Memory pillowHugging is paramount in Carol’s designs. “Sometimes I will sew a pocket onto the heart or wrap sleeves around as a tie. It’s like someone giving you a hug.”

Lisa, who recently lost her dad, shared, “The bear brought tears to my eyes. I love it so much and I will cherish it forever. It is such a beautiful gift, and I cannot thank you enough. I have shown my friends and they wish they had thought of something like this to remember family that has passed away.”

Memory bearsCarol’s connection to hospice is personal. Her mom worked for a hospice in Lake County for many years. When the time came, both of Carol’s parents, as well as her mother-in-law, were cared for by hospice programs. Carol says this is her way of giving back.

With her three children now grown, Carol has more time for her sewing and crafts, something she is also sharing with her grandchildren, who live across the street.

Gracious and generous, Carol is quiet about what her volunteer work means to her. “My mom never talks about herself – she’s humble,” says her daughter Vanessa. “But she really loves doing this for people. She is happy when what she’s doing can help a family who’s lost a special person. She does it from her heart.”