Recommendation from St. John School Students Brings Comfort to Patients with Advanced Dementia


CATEGORY: Philanthropy; News and Community

​Ashtabula Foundation Grant Presented to Hospice of the Western Reserve

Students at St. John’s School in Ashtabula have presented Hospice of the Western Reserve with a $400 grant from The Ashtabula Foundation through their participation in the foundation’s Youth Philanthropy program. The program cultivates an interest in philanthropy by teaching young people the value of giving back to their community through support of charitable organizations.

The grant provides the nonprofit hospice with resources to purchase Comfort Buddies for patients in Ashtabula County. Comfort Buddies are therapeutic stuffed animals weighted with beads and scented with lavender (sold under the trade name Warmies, distributed by lntelex). They are used by hospice workers as a non-medicinal tool to reduce agitation and restlessness and promote wellbeing. They can even be warmed in a microwave to provide added comfort. The Ashtabula team identified a special need in the community: Comfort Buddies help soothe hospice patients living with dementia.

“We’re so grateful to the students and The Ashtabula Foundation for their generous support of people in our community who are living with advanced dementia,” said Cathy Westcott, team leader at the Ashtabula Office of Hospice of the Western Reserve. “I can’t overstate how therapeutic Comfort Buddies are for some of our patients. Often, they will be cuddled or stroked just like a small pet or cradled in their arms like a baby. Holding something soft, warm and weighted in their lap seems to foster a sense of contentment and spark some memory of happier times.”    

“We commend the St. John School Youth Philanthropy Board for their commitment to this program”, said Kelley L. Katon, Administrator, The Ashtabula Foundation. “The mission of our Youth Philanthropy program is to assist the funding of projects in our community that our foundation believes will most directly benefit the people in our area.” “We are grateful for the important work of these students and are hopeful this program will continue to shape their philanthropic values.”    

The Youth Philanthropy Board at St. John School consists of students from the sophomore, junior and senior classes who are led by a student advisor. The process begins with the submission of grant applications on behalf of nonprofit organizations serving Ashtabula County. The nonprofits then present their needs and are interviewed and evaluated by the students. The Youth Philanthropy Board decides where to distribute the funds based on which projects they believe will be most beneficial to residents of Ashtabula. Hospice of the Western Reserve is grateful to be one of several nonprofits selected by St. John School to benefit from the program.

“Along with our entire faculty and staff, I am so proud of these students for the research, dedication and careful consideration they put behind their recommendations to The Ashtabula Foundation,” said Sister Maureen Burke, President of St. John School. “This innovative program provides real-life experience that illustrates the values of service and leadership and the meaningful difference each of them can make in our community.”   

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