Crafting for comfort
Madelyn Julyan may be a whiz when it comes to multiplication, but it’s not certain that she can add up the difference she’s making in other people’s lives.
At just 10 years old, Madelyn united forces with seven other girls in her fourth-grade class to form a bracelet club. The group makes and sells jewelry to their peers at East Elementary School.
They have so far sold more than 300 bracelets — they continue to receive orders for more — each one costing between 25 cents and 75 cents. One hundred percent of their proceeds will be donated to the Lifeline Foundation at Erie County Medical Center.
The idea to create the bracelets was reportedly hatched by club member Morgan Huber, while Madelyn is the one who connected the club to charity based on where her mother works.
The club members first got permission from their school to sell the bracelets, often using their lunch break to make them. They use a special technique to knot different colored embroidery threads together, each bracelet taking between 20 minutes and one hour to make.
“People kept coming to our lockers,” said Madelyn on the success of their fundraiser.
And that success apparently transpired into much more once the club began receiving the attention of local media.
“I was asked for my signature, everybody waves at me ... sometimes being famous can be a pain, but it’s a lot of fun,” Madelyn added.
Her mother, Erika Julyan, couldn’t help but laugh at her daughter’s reaction to the newfound fame. But she also knows that Madelyn has a compassionate side, and that’s the real reason for starting the club.
“I’m really proud of her,” she said. “It makes me feel that, as a mom, the lessons I’m trying to impart to her, she’s getting ... to be generous and have a sense of empathy for what people are going through.”
Julyan, a senior occupational therapist, has worked in ECMC’s Acute Rehabilitation Unit for the last 10 years. She sees firsthand the struggles of each of her patients who have experienced multiple trauma or have sustained burn or spinal injuries. The patients who seek her care are trying to regain basic skills and motor functions that were lost as a result of an injury or serious accident.
The Lifeline Foundation will use the funds donated by the bracelet club to bring in therapy dogs to visit the patients of that unit. The dogs are said to ease the patients’ stress as they work to regain their skills.
Julyan said this type of animal/ pet therapy has been used in the unit for about two years. There are many benefits to introducing a patient to a puppy, she said, including the lowering of blood pressure and creating an overall sense of calmness.
“We placed a puppy in a woman’s lap,” she recalled, “And I watched that woman move her arm for the first time [since her injury] to pet the animal.”
Julyan said her daughter’s interest in helping others became evident when her father, Madelyn’s grandfather, was injured at work. As a result, he lost a portion of his leg just below the knee, and so Julyan taught him how to walk and work with a prosthetic leg.
“She’s been more inquisitive since then,” the mother said.
Additionally, the Lifeline Foundation has committed to allocating some of the club’s funding toward the creation of “raised gardens.” This will provide an opportunity for patients in wheelchairs — who don’t have the capability to reach to the ground — to garden outdoors.
In the meantime, Madelyn said that her goal is to continue the club for as long as possible and sell the bracelets to raise funds for ECMC and the foundation.
Madelyn is a former soccer player who is now learning the basics of hockey through a clinic at Leisure Rinks in West Seneca. She loves to cook and wants to someday become a chef. But her aspirations for helping others don’t end with making bracelets.
“I also want to be a firefighter,” she added.