‘A Labor of Love’

Sue Schoolcraft

Sue Schoolcraft poses outside of her Randolph Center home with her latest Menig quilt and her sewing machine, which she even packs on vacations so Menig Extended Care Facility residents get their quilts as soon as possible. It takes her between two days to a month to create each quilt.

The Last Mile Ride this Friday and Saturday at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph is a lot of things to a lot of people.

For the residents of the Menig Extended Care Facility, it is a splash of color and warmth during the last years of life.

Sue Schoolcraft’s mother always sewed. She made Schoolcraft and her twin brothers’ clothes and winter wear on a tiny, portable General Electric machine. “Until I was married, she made clothes for me,” says Schoolcraft, who was born at the start of World War II and amid the Great Depression.

Sue Schoolcraft

Sue Schoolcraft, who makes quilts for Menig residents thanks to funds raised each year at the Last Mile Ride, demonstrates a stitch.

Schoolcraft’s interest in quilting was born in high school in her native New York.

“I started probably right after high school. We had a history teacher and he would take us to museums and living history museums, and I saw all these quilts,” she says, recalling watching women quilting and then seeing a striking image of a Baltimore Album quilt in a magazine.

“It was beautiful. It just appealed to me,” says Schoolcraft.

Sue Schoolcraft

A quilting book tops a small stack of reading materials in Sue Schoolcraft’s living room.

Her mom helped her get started and she worked on that quilt, her first, for years – through marriage, children and moves to Swanton, Vt., Sheldon Springs, Randolph, Fairfax and Braintree Hill before finally moving to Randolph Center more than 40 years ago.

In Vermont, Schoolcraft found a quilting community. She joined an East Bethel hand crafters group, made a second quilt for her daughter and eventually sold at craft fairs.

Sue Schoolcraft

Menig resident Barb Reynolds’ quilt features bright greens. “I like the color of it and all the hard work that’s in it.” It is Barb’s first ever quilt, she says.

She was teaching a quilting class at her church in Randolph Center, the First Congregational Church of Randolph, when she saw an ad in the paper from the Menig Extended Care Facility in Randolph looking for quilts for its 30 nursing home residents.

Schoolcraft, a stay-at-home mom and avid sewer, responded and put her four students to work.

“They had just opened up the new Menig center,” Schoolcraft recalls. “We suddenly needed 30 quilts. I was teaching a quilt class at the time and we started making quilts.

“And I just loved it and kept on.”

Sue Schoolcraft

Menig resident Jean “Terry” Wilson loves her quilt’s colors, particularly the pink.

Today when a new resident moves in to Menig, 75-year-old Schoolcraft talks to the resident about his or her interests and likes, or receives this information from Menig staff, and gets to work herself making a personalized quilt.

One such quilt stands out in Schoolcraft’s memory. Her mother – that mother who taught her to sew – Dorothy Morack, lived at Menig during her final years.

“She wanted butterflies. So I found material,” Schoolcraft says. “It just made me happy to know that I was able to do something special for her after all the things she had done for me.”

A more recent quilt featured tractors, trees and a gambrel roof barn for a male resident.

Sue Schoolcraft

Mertie Seymour likes flowers, so that is what her quilt at Menig features.

While each is different – be it butterflies or barns – there is one constant to the quilts that neatly adorn each resident’s bed. “I try to do quilts in bright and cheerful colors, especially with our long winters,” says Schoolcraft, who hopes to uplift the residents during what for most are their final years.

The work is supported by the Last Mile Ride, Gifford’s annual charity motorcycle ride, cycle ride, 5K and 1-mile walk, which raises money for free services for people in advanced illness or at the end-of-life.

For Schoolcraft, the work is “a labor of love.” Occasionally, she gets thank you notes and relishes in residents’ reactions. “’Look what I got! Look what I got!’” said one. “’This is for me?’ Did you make this for me?’” inquired another.

“It just brings me happiness and joy to do this. It has many different aspects. It’s giving back to the community that has been so good to us,” she says of herself and husband Ron. “It connects us to people.”

The Last Mile Ride 5K run and one-mile walk is Friday. A 38-mile cycle ride and 79-mile motorcycle ride is being held on Saturday. The events raise money for special services for those in life’s last mile. Those services include alternative therapies such as massage and music therapy; food for families staying in Gifford’s Garden Room for end-of-life patients; professional family photos; family grants; gas cards to doctors’ appointments; and special family requests, such as a family trip to a Red Sox game, a flight to be at a loved one’s side, a handicapped ramp, or other small home improvements.

Log on to www.giffordmed.org or call 728-2284 to learn more. Participants can register on the day of the event.

Fighting Disease Through “Compassion” – Dr. Ken Borie

Dr. Ken BorieOriginally from Pennsylvania, Dr. Ken Borie has been a family physician in Randolph since 1980. Married with two grown sons and a teenage daughter, Dr. Borie lives a few doors down the street from Gifford, walking to work – even on his day off. His wife, Mary, is a registered nurse in Gifford’s Birthing Center.

In his free time, Dr. Borie is an oil and watercolor portrait painter and enjoys gardening, reading, jogging, whale and bird watching, and golfing. He studies history and medical history, teaches Civil War medicine to schoolchildren, and often has Dartmouth Medical School students with him as he shares his passion for family medicine and his compassion for patients.

Below is his story as told in his own words, as featured in our 2012 Annual Report.

“My journey to Randolph began when I was just 8 years old. I grew up in a neighborhood surrounded by doctors. I saw them as mentors and role models, and knew – even then – that is what I wanted to do with my life.

After acceptance to medical school, I spent my first year in awe of the anatomy of the human body. The summer after my freshman year, I hiked the Long Trail end to end and then went to Waterville, Maine for a six-week medical externship. That summer showed me the beauty of Vermont and where I wanted to practice. It also showed me my future specialty: family medicine, as I worked with an amazing family doctor who “did it all”.

Dr. Ken Borie

The two sides of Dr. Borie – top, an early ’90s portrait shows the dedicated physician hard at work and bottom, Dr. Borie in 1989 sharing a smile.

I came to Randolph in July of 1980, right out of my family medicine residency. Peter  Frankenburg was my real estate broker and sold me the house I live in today. One of his selling pitches included “…and the Fourth of July parade goes right past the house.” Dr. Ron Gadway and Dr. Ed Armstrong initially hired me at Medical Associates, but very soon I was able to open my own practice as Phil Levesque, the CEO at Gifford at the time, was looking for a family doctor in Randolph. I worked as an independent and solo practitioner in Randolph until Gifford officially hired me in 1994.

Thirty-two years of practice later, I can tell you first-hand that being a physician is a blessing. I feel honored to have patients put their trust and faith in me. There is no greater honor than to have a young woman ask me to take care of her newborn baby or after caring for an elderly woman for 25 years, sitting with her and her family as she dies in Gifford’s Garden Room.

I’m not alone in this work. Exceptional physicians, like Drs. Milt Fowler, Mark and Elizabeth Jewett, Lou DiNicola, Terry Cantlin, Mark Seymour, Bill Minsinger, and Dennis Henzig, along with many others on Gifford’s staff, have worked at my side for decades. Together we have helped keep the people of central Vermont healthy.

We’ve incorporated many strategies to achieve that goal, but there is a saying on a statue at Gifford that says it best. The statue is of two birds and is crafted by the talented Jim Sardonis. It reads: “Science has provided many tools for fighting disease, but the oldest tool, compassion, is still the most important.” These words help guide me through each day.”

~ Ken Borie, D.O.
Gifford family physician

Dr. Ken Borie

Above left: an undated portrait of Dr. Borie. Above right: Dr. Borie chats with Joe and Lois Mulderig of Randolph. Joe and Lois, ages 88 and 85 respectively, have been married for 65 years and have been patients of Dr. Borie’s since moving to Vermont about 20 years ago.