By Phil Corso
For Bay Terrace’s 17-year-old Nicole Javorsky, comfort comes in the form of tiny, handmade teddy bears.
The Benjamin N. Cardozo High School graduate has spent the past year building an outreach project, literally with her own two hands, geared toward young patients. Cubs for Coping assembles stuffed companions for kids in hospitals and homeless shelters so that they never have to feel alone.
“I wanted to give the patients something they could hold onto,” said Javorsky, who was hospitalized at age 14 for an eating disorder. “So many people are in and out of the hospital that it can be a lonely place for young people.”
Javorsky said family and friends sending her stuffed animals made her feel closer to home while she was hospitalized, so much so that she wanted to share the love with other young adults in her shoes.
One year later, Cubs for Coping has donated more than 40 handmade teddy bears to patients in hospitals, homeless shelters and eating disorder programs. The project has already sent bears over to Cohen Children’s Hospital at LIJ, the Bowery Mission homeless shelter in Manhattan and to children affected by recent natural disasters in Oklahoma, with more to come.
Each stuffed bear has its own unique decorations and is wrapped in plastic for delivery, Javorsky said. She and a small group of volunteers meet every few weeks to stitch up a new collection of bears in anticipation of more groups signing onto the cause.
“The goal is to have a lot of hospitals and shelters involved so their kids and teens never have to feel alone,” Javorsky said. “The bears may seem trivial, but they help.”
The Bay Terrace teen launched the program at the start of her senior year in high school along with three others: Christie Delligatti, Arielle Budnick and Talia Weisberg. The group has since been actively seeking partnerships with other youth organizations as it continues to pursue its goals of promoting creativity and spreading hope.
And though their team of volunteers is small, they have already been sponsored by Youth Venture, an international community of young activists working toward a cause.
“I remember when my best friend Nicole was in the hospital and I felt helpless not knowing what to do,” Delligatti said on the project’s website. “That’s why I became involved in Cubs for Coping — not only to spread hope to those who are in need, but also to get other young people involved in something that helps make the world a better place.”
Looking ahead, Javorsky said she hopes to see Cubs for Coping grow as funds and partnerships pile onto the cause. The group launched an online fund-raising campaign on its website, cubsforcoping.org, with all tax deductible donations going toward supplies and sewing workshops to bolster the number of bears it can deliver.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.