On a cold and windy day in January, 2009, representatives of Phoenix House’s Arbor House Program in Holyoke, Massachusetts, presented a gift of more than fifty hand-knitted winter hats to the Holyoke Medical Center’s Oncology Unit.
The hats were knitted by individuals undergoing treatment for substance abuse at Arbor House, a short-term residential program providing transitional support services to men and women who have completed detoxification treatment and are in need of stabilization while awaiting admission to a long–term residential treatment program.
Making hats for cancer patients is part of the expressive arts program at Arbor House. It helps create a sense of community as the residents help each other learn to knit, share tips and techniques, and encourage each other. At the same time, it has a calming and centering effect, can help in many kinds of stressful situations, and allows residents to give back to the community in a tangible and productive way.
Peter Ostrander, left, a resident at Phoenix House’s Arbor House Program in Holyoke, Massachusetts, presents a box of hats knitted by fellow Arbor House residents to Zubeena Mateen, M.D., F.A.C.P., Director of Oncology at Holyoke Medical Center. The hats are for the use of young cancer patients at the Medical Center.