Sew Wonderful! By Sarah Battaglia
Knitting, Sewing, Quilting, Crocheting…They Are So Much More Than Hobbies
Melisa Shampine, UUP Member &
C0-Founder of Stony Brook Stitchers
The Stony Brook Stitchers is a group of volunteers who create items for those in need at Stony Brook Hospital, Stony Brook Cancer Center and the Long Island State Veterans Home. Some of the items made and donated to patients include hats for adults and infants, afghans, and prayer shawls along with many other handmade creations.
The group is made up of staff, faculty and students from both the hospital and the university and was started over 10 years ago by co-founders, Melissa Shampine, a Staff Assistant in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Stony Brook Hospital, and Jan Tassie, Assistant Director of Financial Aid and Scholarship Services, at Stony Brook University. Shampine now serves as East Campus Director of the Stony Brook Stitchers while Tassie assists as Co-Director.
UUP member Maryann Russo, who is a part of the group, shared the intent of the group's founder. Says Russo, "I have known Melissa Shampine for over 8 years. She started the Stony Brook Stitchers when she realized the comfort patients would feel when they received a donated blanket or knitted hat."  Russo added, “Melissa spends countless hours contacting and recruiting volunteers as well as arranging the delivery of all of the donated items.”
With the rise of the COVID pandemic, masks have become a high priority item for the Stitchers. Both Stony Brook Stitchers and the Long Island Quilts for Kids organizations have coordinated their efforts in making masks and Stony Brook’s Children’s Hospital has been the recipient of thousands of masks and other items donated by the two organizations.
Meet the Stitchers
Ann DeChiaro-Pfisterer: 

I have been sewing for what seems to be my lifetime. During the initial stages of COVID 19, the sewing machine and those who could quilt and sew with it became an army of stitchers creating the most important life-saving tool - a simple cloth mask. When we were required to wear masks and no masks were available, I remember finding an instructional YouTube video about a hospital that met the mask shortage by enlisting sewers to stitch masks at home and then donate them to the hospital. I watch this video scores of times, passed the information on to my sewing friends and Stony Brook Stitchers. Eventually, the local community and SBU bought into the idea of home-sewn masks. So we stitchers and quilters who had an abundance of fabric stashes became "essential workers" and mask makers. I have never sewn such an important item for the health and safety of anyone.  Knowing that the recipient may have their life on the line if I didn't sew a safe mask, drove me to be a perfect mask maker. 

I am very lucky to work with several stitching friends, who in normal times, enjoy sewing together. Now, mask-making became a collaborative effort with my co-workers Regina Biasetti, Kathy Finnegan, Pat Gonzalez, and Maryjo Kaleda! Yes, we had the fabric, but the elastic was like 14K gold - unable to be found, but shared if we had it. We talked about making the "best mask" and exchanged ideas about doing so. Then we had to become creative with ties, strings, shoelaces, -- just about anything to hold a mask on. Our skills became so vital, that I felt like a dealer in the neighborhood! My co-workers in the Physical Therapy program in the SHTM would do drive-bys to pick up masks that I sewed for them.  

During April and May, I believe I sewed about 400-500 masks for delivery to Stony Brook Stitchers, Quilts for Kids, and my own family and friends. The Quilts for Kids organization totaled over 20,000 masks sewn. I am so glad to have contributed to the greater good during his time of need.  I feel that I stitched a lot of love and prayers into every mask I sewed. To this day, I still have faith that any mask that I sew is my own personal best as it is protecting me and anyone who I give it to. It is the best sewing that I could ever do.
Visit Stony Brook Stitchers HERE!

Visit Long Island Quilts for Kids HERE!
Stony Brook Stichers, Jan Tassie, left, and Melissa Shampine, right, pictured with Carol Gomes, Chief Executive Officer/Chief Operating Officer in front Stony Brook Medicine
Assortment of masks made by the Stony Brook Stitchers
Regina Biasetti and Ann DiChiaro-Psisterer
Ann DeChiaro-Pfisterer sharing smiles with fellow Stony Brook Stitcher Regina Biasetti
Welcome, New Members!
by Christopher Lazauskas
Hello! As membership development officer for UUP’s Stony Brook HSC chapter, one of the most important aspects of our chapter and union strength is the fight for proper working conditions and rights for our members.
I look forward to hearing from all of our newest union members as you begin and grow in your career here at Stony Brook HSC. Your input and concerns are of utmost importance to me and the rest of the UUP Chapter leadership.
Please give a warm welcome to the following new members of the Stony Brook HSC chapter!