Windsor women join project spreading comfort to breast cancer survivors


Women of 55 Resort apartments gather and discuss the projects for the upcoming week. Every other week, women from all over the complex come together to stuff, sew and finish the pillows for breast cancer survivors. (Savannah Klemisch)

Savannah Klemisch, Reporter

For more than a year and a half, women at the 55 Resort apartments in Windsor have participated in the making of heart-shaped pillows for breast cancer survivors across the state. These pillows are hand made and delivered with love to many hospitals around Colorado, as well as one hospital in Wyoming.

The JWILL Pink Village organization is a non-profit charity project to help provide comfort and care to strong women who have fought or are currently fighting against breast cancer. Jen Willard, a breast cancer survivor, started this organization shortly after she had surgery. Willard was given a pillow to attach to her seatbelt to stop any rubbing or pain on her chest while she was recovering. After she was done healing, she went back to the hospital to ask what she could do to help spread the creation of them.

Babette Bailiere started participating in the making of the pillows after reading about it on a work article. After about four years of doing it, she brought it with 55 Resort, where they slowly grew a group of women. “I’ve actually been involved for about five years… and we’ve been doing it here at 55 Resort for about a year and I plan to do this until I either can’t do it anymore or until I die,” Bailiere said.

Every other Tuesday, women at the 55 Resort gather to hear the plans and work to complete in the upcoming weeks. This includes sewing on the handles, sewing the fabric together, making tags and, finally, gathering to stuff and hand sew the pillows they made over the weeks.

Helping hand Judy Ishida often attends at these get-togethers. Ishida’s favorite part is “the camaraderie getting together and then just seeing all the really pretty pillows after they get finished. Also just knowing that somebody else is going to be able to enjoy it and sharing this good things with them.”

The finished pillows from the week get set out and ready for donation. Some people working in the organization enjoy the thrill of finding fun fabrics that will boost the spirits of the recipients. (Savannah Klemisch)

After being stuffed, sewed and labeled, the pillows are delivered to surgery centers and hospitals across Colorado and one hospital in Wyoming, sharing care and joy to recovering women all around. However, not only does this project give a few ladies around Colorado a project to work on, but it also helps uplift a community that is in much need of hope.

Although the exact number of pillows donated over the past six years could not be found, as of May 9, Basiliere was able to participate in the donation of over 3,000 pillows. This number includes the 700+ they have made at the 55 Resort apartments alone.

Nikki Cravens, a previous Windsor resident, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic after almost a decade of doctors telling her there was nothing wrong. After an increase in symptoms, she decided to visit a doctor again. “By that time, it was stage 4 cancer and had spread to my bones as well. So it was in my skin, lymph nodes, breast and bones,” Cravens said.

Cravens went through a lot with this emotional diagnosis. And something that helps to this day? Knowing about community support.

“Oh, I think it’s great. Like any little thing like that, especially knowing that it was made by a human in your community, is so, like, touching and so important and so giving and you can feel the love in those things,” Cravens said. “I feel like I had a lot of support. It was kind of difficult for me because it happened during COVID, and so a lot of the services that I had been told about weren’t being offered because of COVID… So even stuff like, that you know was made by someone in your community, you can like feel the love in it. So I think that’s a really great thing.”

After spreading joy and hearing back from survivors, the women of 55 Resort apartments hope to continue aiding this organization in many ways, including spreading this information to the community in anticipation that more people will help grow this program and spread love to all those strong women out there.finish