MT IDA, Ark. — If a stitch in time saves nine, Pammy Broersma is making up for lost time.
"Our Mother started us on regular knitting and crocheting," Broersma said, while rocking in a chair alongside her sister and caregiver, Barbara Sprague, at their humble home in Montgomery County, where Arkansas Hospice is helping the sisters manage treatment for several health problems.
"I'm feeling pretty good today," Broersma says as she loops yarn over a circular loom that is a few inches away from being a soft, woolen hat.
This is how the sisters pass the time, though in hospice, all time is precious.
Sprague says her sister has had a hard life, medically. Heart defects, several surgeries, and most recently lung problems led her to the decision to head home and seek hospice comfort. After a few days, depression loomed, so her sister grabbed a loom and got Broersma started making hats.
"Since I've come home from the hospital, it's been 101 hats," Broersma says while working on 102 from behind a table piled with a dozen colorful finished products.
"Pam amazes me because she's reaching out at a time that is very difficult for her," said Cheryl Murphy, the licensed social worker for the sisters. "She's showing how important volunteering can be for patients like this. She's an inspiration."
Hospice experts say Broersma's story isn't uncommon, though she's the only patient on the service's roster who also volunteers. Activities like this can be so important to people making end-of-life decisions, leading to more time and better quality of life. Pam gets after it with gusto, donating the hats back to fellow patients.
"They're such nice people and their patients can use them too," Broersma said. "It's my way of giving back to people and helping people."
Sprague says donations are keeping the supply chain stocked, and there is always demand for warm hats even on the hottest days.
Broersma isn't starting a cottage business and doesn't have a production quota. In fact, she doesn't see the sense in looking past the next helping hat.
"Whatever I can do, I do," she said.