Lady, Leader and Legacy

There are angels among us. They often go unrecognized because they do not walk around sporting wings and halos. An angel might be your neighbor, a friend, a colleague or a stranger. You never know who they are, but they work their miracles every day.

I have always believed in angels. Personally, I like to think that loved ones watch over us from heaven, and when we are hurting or struggling, they send earthly beings to lend a helping hand or comfort us, protect us, guide us and love us. Through remarkable or ordinary acts, angels can touch our lives.

Clairann Dula is one of those angels. You may remember reading about Ms. Dula in the October 2015 issue of Frisco STYLE. Sadly, the founder of the Pillows for Patients Ministry lost her valiant battle against cancer on Oct. 30, 2015. In heaven, as on Earth, I have no doubt the beloved Frisco resident immediately got busy recruiting souls to serve as guardian angels for cancer patients and their families.

Ms. Dula’s family, friends and parishioners from First United Methodist Church of Frisco (FUMC) are determined that her ministry will continue. One week after her memorial service, a dozen women of all ages attended a meeting organized by Donna Smith, Mary Belyeu, Sue Floyd and Terry Williams who were ready to stuff, sew and package pillows. Reverend Nancy Sherman says, “I am so glad the women of FUMC are here to represent and continue this wonderful ministry, carrying on Clairann’s legacy by touching lives with God’s love.”

Stephanie Moore, one of Ms. Dula’s four children, shares, “In the early days of the Pillow Ministry, my mom would deliver the heart-shaped pillows to breast cancer patients, making that one-on-one connection to share encouragement and offer resources and help from another cancer survivor. Each pillow she left behind was more than just an aid in their recovery process — it was a tangible reminder of hope, support and comfort. As the Pillow Ministry grew, more people began making pillows. Heart and cancer patients began requesting them to provide a cushion between their seatbelts and ports or other tender areas due to surgeries, so the group began making smaller rectangular pillows to meet this need.”

Ms. Moore adds, “Anyone who worked in the Pillow Ministry with my mom could tell you how much thought and effort she put into each pillow. She carefully selected fabrics, ironing each piece before cutting, pinning and sewing because she wanted it to be very special for each recipient. Pillows were not ready for delivery until they had been placed in an individual cellophane bag and tied with a real ribbon. She wanted each recipient to feel like they were getting a gift that was specially made for them.”

With a bright smile and a thumbs up, Ms. Smith says, “With God’s help and guidance, we will continue Clairann’s ministry. In addition to regular get-togethers, we will have a special ‘stuffing party’ each January around the time of Clairann’s birthday. This year, we will meet on Jan. 19 and make 83 pillows because that is how old she would have been. We hope to do this annually, so her memory and her mission are never forgotten.”

Ms. Moore concludes, “Many thank you notes poured into the church over the years, telling of how much receiving the pillows meant to people. Sometimes, people would send a contribution to be used in the ministry, which would enable Mother to buy the fabric, stuffing, ribbons and bags needed. One of her greatest joys was having ‘stuffing parties.’ Once they had a batch of pillows sewn up, they would have a group get-together. The beauty of this ministry is that even someone who cannot sew can participate by bringing a bag of fiberfill, helping stuff pillows, bag them or tie ribbons. The fellowship and friendships that grew from those gatherings over the years were very precious to her, and her last get-together with that special group of friends occurred just a couple weeks before her death. While lung cancer may have ended her ability to continue this ministry herself, I am sure it would bring her great joy to know others will continue to work together to spread hope, encouragement and support to patients battling cancer and other illnesses.”

For more information about the Pillows for Patients Ministry, email Ms. Belyeu at mabelyeu@gmail.com or call 972-712-4743.

If you would like to make a donation, please send it to the church office. Checks can be made out to “First Frisco.” Please note that the donation is for the Pillows for Patients Ministry.

Frisco STYLE
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