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Volunteer, Founder of Pillow Hugs Ministry

JoAnn Zimmerman holding a box of pillows in front of Judi's House in  Denver

Jo Ann Zimmerman is one of the founders of the Pillow Hugs Ministry, an idea created by the Companions in Christ Bible study group at Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterian Church in Lakewood, Colo. The five women in the group put their sewing machines to work making pillowcases for travel size pillows to help comfort children and adults in shelters and support groups. Jo Ann has been donating Pillow Hugs to Judi’s House since 2009.  

Judi’s House: Tell us a bit about your work as a Volunteer

Jo Ann: My fellow volunteers from the Pillow Hugs Ministry and I make “Pillow Hugs” that we give to the little kids when they come in for assessment or group therapy at Judi’s House. Each pillow is unique and has a whimsical fabric design to appeal to the kiddos. Pillow Hugs are meant to be a comfort object – something that kids can hold and squeeze – when they are doing the difficult work in grief therapy.  I am also a member of the Judi’s House Visionary Society which is a group of donors who have given annual gifts of any amount for 10 or more consecutive years.

How did you come to find Judi’s House?

A woman from our church attended a fundraiser for Judi’s House and saw the need for Pillow Hugs for the children who attend the Judi’s House program. We took about a dozen pillows down and donated them on June 5, 2009. The pillows were so popular that we have been donating pillows ever since.  Every three months when a new session starts, we reach out and ask how many children are in the program and bring down the appropriate number of new Pillow Hugs. 

How many pillows have been donated thus far?

Since we started making pillows for Judi’s House in 2009, we have donated 1,560 pillows. The pillows we create for Judi’s House are very unique. During some of the therapy sessions, Judi’s House participants write down the feelings that they are having as they work through their grief. The pillows for Juid’s House are made with one side of decorative fabric and one side of plain white fabric so that the kids can write their feelings directly on the pillow. We have received many thank you notes over the years and messages from the Judi’s House staff and trainees telling us how comforting the pillows are for the children. 

What do you think makes Judi’s House  so unique?

I can’t imagine being a child and losing a parent or sibling. I really cannot imagine that happening. I think it is wonderful that there are people who understand how the kids are feeling and can help them navigate through their grief process. Judi’s House is really a wonderful gift for these children and their families.

What is your hope for the future of Judi’s House?

When I dropped off my most recent batch of pillows, I was able to see the brand new facility. I think it is an amazing space and so wonderful that Judi’s House will be able to provide services to more and more children who need grief support.  I’m so happy that Judi’s House is able to have that space for the community to gather and receive services.

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