Youth shares ‘display of love’ for hospital staff
Sophia Gillece of New Milford has a big heart.
The second-grader is always thinking of others first.
Last summer, she set up a lemonade stand and sold some of her toys, raising $130.
She donated the funds to New Milford Hospital’s cancer center in memory of her grandfather.
Her thoughtfulness has continued through the coronavirus pandemic.
Sophia repeatedly asks her mother, Amy Gillece, who works in the kitchen at New Milford Hospital, how her colleagues are feeling and handling these uncertain times.
“She’s always asking about how everyone at work is dealing with stuff,” Gillece said.
Gillece explained to Sophia, 7, that “we are all worried and sometimes stressed out with how everything is changing.”
To lift the spirits of her mother’s colleagues at the hospital, Sophia implemented a mission.
“She wanted to do something nice for the hardworking doctors and nurses,” Gillece said.
So, what began as Easter crafts turned into cheer messages for hospital staff. She made cards.
“I want to make the cards to remind the hardworking nurses and doctors to keep up the good work and not to worry,” Sophia said.
Sophia added that she wants the staff “to remember we are all in this together.”
“I hope my cards cheer them up,” she said.
Dennis Blandino, a biomedical equipment technician who works at multiple sites in the Nuvance Health network, including New Milford Hospital, said he was moved by Sophia’s cards.
The impact it “had on me was more than I expected,” he said.
“The thought was ‘Wow, that’s right, I’m part of this helping keep people safe, and this is why I’m in health care.’ ”
Blandino said he, like so many others on the front lines, feels the “added mental fatigue of COVID-related things” such as “taking extra precautions with disinfecting everything and using PPE ever day everywhere.”
He describes Sophia’s cards as a “terrific display of love” that have helped him keep focus and remind him how much staff is appreciated.
“I had to capture the cards and post in my work area, as a reminder to ‘keep up the good work,’ ” he said.
The heath worker said everyone he has spoken to about Sophia’s cards agrees her project is “wonderful.”
Sophia’s cards are hanging throughout the nursing unit.
“Staff have commented that they are impressed with her artwork and the time she took to create something to help cheer them up,” said Barbara Davies, director of Patient Care Services and manager of the hospital’s Diebold Family Cancer Center.
“What is impressive about Sophia and her projects, as she has done several in the past for hospital staff, is how empathetic she for such a young person,” Davies said. “You can’t help but smile when you see one of Sophia’s projects.”
Sophia also made a sign for her front yard. It reads: “New Milford Strong. Thank you NMPD, NMFD, EMS, NMH. Be Strong Together.”
The sign is decorated with the New Milford flag, flowers and hearts.
In addition, Sophia is making watermelon scented hand sanitizer to give to people.
“Sophia is a very special and caring child always doing for others at such a young age,” said Kerry Gold, dining services director at the hospital.