By Kate Fitzwilliams, ICF Marketing and PR Specialist, and Peg Gargano, ICF Volunteer
For 21 years Peg Gargano has volunteered at the International Crane Foundation (ICF). She is an expert tour guide and is always willing to help out the organization where needed (right, Peg leads a tout at ICF). Her passion for cranes is infectious and Peg has converted many people into crane enthusiasts. Most recently she has shared the magic of cranes with her patients and co-workers at St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo, WI, where she is a medical technologist in the lab.
Here is Peg’s story:
In an effort to show our patients at St. Clare Hospital how much we care about them, we started giving them origami cranes, which symbolize peace, good luck and long life. At first, we purchased the origami cranes through the ICF gift shop, but realized they would be closing on October 31st (the end of ICF’s annual visitor season), so we learned how to make our own! Kelly, a wonderful Conservation Education intern at ICF, taught me how to fold a crane, and then I taught everyone else.
It took us awhile to get our assembly line going, but we were all pretty enthusiastic about the project. Each origami crane is placed into a Red-crowned Crane card that we designed ourselves. All staff members sign the card and it is hand delivered to our patients (below right). The positive response was overwhelming. We had no idea how much this card and crane would mean to people. It has been very emotional for us in the lab, as some patients respond with tears, smiles and genuine heart-filled thanks.
One elderly woman was so moved by her card that she told her five grandchildren about it. Shortly after she passed away, the family requested five orange origami cranes (orange was her favorite color) for each grandchild to place in her casket.
A Korean War Veteran was moved to tears when we delivered his card.
Some cancer patients told us that they were able to get through their chemotherapy because the origami crane was in their hands. They felt that the origami crane gave them courage and strength.
This project has been very positive for our staff too. For us, making these cranes has become a stress reliever in our busy days and provides us with a sense of peace. Our hope at St. Clare Hospital is that the patients we give the origami cranes to also feel a sense of peace and know in their hearts how much we do care about them.
How can you help? Fold an origami crane (or two, or three!) and mail your cranes to ICF (learn how to fold an origami crane). We will deliver your cranes to St. Clare Hospital to share with their staff and patients. Please direct your cranes to: Kate Fitzwilliams, International Crane Foundation, P.O. Box 447, Baraboo, WI 53913.