Four years ago, Ron Ferguson started volunteering at Heirlooms for Hospice, an upscale resale store, where he worked in the warehouse repurposing furniture and other items to be sold in the store. He’s made headboards into benches, old TV cabinets into entryway furniture and has even used old belts to upcycle old chairs.
His knack for making old things new again spilled over into his personal life when he made a giftbag for his granddaughter out of old jeans.
“I started making the bags for the neighborhood kids and pretty much everyone around me,” laughed Ferguson.
Although each of these bags were made with heart and intent, one bag carried a deeper purpose.
Last year, Ferguson connected almost immediately with new Heirlooms Store Manager, Jessica Feldhaus after learning her 4-year-old granddaughter, Piper Waneka, had an aggressive and fast-growing brain tumor. A similar type of tumor his late partner succumbed to 17 years earlier.
Piper’s tumor, a rare form of brainstem cancer more common among children than adults, was called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). Ferguson’s partner had a brain cancer caused by glioblastoma, a common type of malignant brain tumor among adults, but rare among children.
“I could relate to what Jessica and her family were going through,” said Ferguson. “So, I made a bag for her granddaughter. A little bag for Piper to put her things in while she was at the hospital.”
Ferguson vividly remembers the experience of his partner’s decline and the support of hospice care offered in the Montana city where they resided.
“I had to come to grips with everything in such a short time,” said Ferguson, “Getting family prepared, and financials arranged. Hospice allowed me to focus on my partner and our family.”
In addition to making sure Ferguson’s partner was a comfortable as could be, the hospice team also took time to make sure Ferguson knew exactly what was happening.
“Anytime I needed anything I would call, and they were there,” said Ferguson. “By making these bags, I feel like it’s my way of giving back.”
Piper died just last year and after her passing, Ron has continued to create these repurposed purses and backpacks to honor her memory. The bags deemed “Piper’s Purses” are hand-made by Ron for any child in hospice care.
“We never understand the reasons why, but the world has a funny way of bringing people together,” said Ferguson. “From my experience, I suggest accepting support and remember that people are there to help you. I hope through my work, I’m able to help others, much like the support I received.”
You too can support the mission of HopeWest by shopping the repurposed or donated items at Heirlooms for Hospice. Proceeds from these sales support other families facing journeys involving serious illness and grief. For more information about HopeWest visit HopeWestCO.org or like us on Facebook to read more stories like this.