“We’ve been mugged,” said Diane Snyder—a registered nurse at Kansas City Hospice House—with a smile when she saw the special delivery from KC Homes 365.
Just as Snyder suspected, the box was filled with nearly 30 freshly-painted and -glazed mugs made with her families in mind. Needless to say, the mugs were not in the box for long.
Volunteer Coordinator Lane Foster immediately got to work replacing the white, thrift-store mugs with the specially-designed creations, courtesy of KC Homes 365 and Ceramic Cafe in Leawood, Kansas.
“It isn’t so much that the mugs are important to the people in hospice care, but they’re a comfort to those visiting them,” Ceramic Cafe owner Sara Thompson said.
She said that over time, mugs get broken or visitors get attached to a mug. This is where her paint-your-own-pottery cafe comes into play. Groups of all shapes and sizes—from corporate businesses to Girl Scouts—can host a party at Ceramic Cafe and donate their mugs to the Kansas City Hospice House.
But you don’t have to come with a party of 30 in order to paint for a cause. Individuals can drop in any time and donate their masterpiece when it’s done.
Thompson—a strong believer in creative therapy for the soul—has donated hundreds of mugs to the Kansas City Hospice House over the past five years.
KC Homes 365 hosted the latest painting-for-purpose party a few weeks ago and packed the place with local Picassos and Monets. Some of the attendees were a little hesitant to pick up a brush at first, but it wasn’t anything a little wine and music couldn’t cure.
“I was kind of dreading it, but I actually had a good time,” one of the (ahem, male) attendees said.
It also helped that he knew the mugs were going to a good home. The Kansas City Hospice House is structured to help patients live with dignity, comfort and peace in their final days. Because the patients are usually coming from the hospital, the caregivers try to make their space as homey as possible. In a small way, the custom mugs help to achieve that goal.
“The mugs are bright, they’re cheerful. They’re something someone made just for them,” Foster says.
She says a lot of family members end up staying overnight and there isn’t a cafeteria on the premises. The Hospice House is only able to cook meals for the patients, which is why the family area break room is so important. Visitors will grab a mug to refuel with coffee or make a hot chocolate for pint-sized family members—and they double as bowls when Crock-Pot soup is hot and ready.
Foster says the mugs also serve as conversation starters and have been known to foster comradery in the Hospice House’s “living room” waiting area.
“You know why that person’s here and he knows why you’re here, but it’s a way to make a connection with someone,” Foster says. “It can help you feel less alone. It’s the little things that are special.”
What small acts of kindness have helped you through hard times? Tell us in the comments below and let us know if you have ideas for future community service events.