The Pillow Ladies are a dedicated group of volunteers who meet at St. Elizabeth Medical Center each month to craft heart-shaped pillows. The pillows are used by patients of the Mohawk Valley Heart Institute who have undergone major heart surgery.

While recovering, patients hold a heart pillow close to their chest, providing necessary support to their sternum or breastbone. This can be especially helpful during coughing and breathing exercises, which help prevent fluid from building in the lungs.

It is quite a sight to see as the mismatched pieces of fabric and a variety of materials take shape. Each pillow is made by hand with care and precision. Each is unique in design and color, yet all provide the same symbol of hope and support for those who need them.

The women behind these pillows seem to be aware of their importance and take pride in every one made. Many have been members for several years, some since the very beginning, over 15 years ago. There is a sense of camaraderie among the group, whose members have come to know one another well over the years. Talk of children and grandchildren can be heard as their hands work steadily, cutting, stuffing, sewing one pillow after another. Before they know it, between 25 and 40 pillows are made.

If you would to help the Pillow Ladies, please call our Volunteer Department at 315-798-8275. Also, donations of fabric and sewing materials are always needed and can be brought to the main reception desk in the College of Nursing building at 2215 Genesee St., Utica, NY 13501.

View additional images from the photo shoot on our Facebook page.