By Harry Glazer
What can a high-energy corporate worker, with blossoming crafting skills, do to keep challenging herself?
If you’re Shannon Downey of Piscataway, you find a way to use your craft-work to give back to your local community.
By day, Shannon is a busy executive assistant to the vice president of corporate development at Applied Communication Sciences (formerly Telcordia Technologies), where she’s worked for over 26 years. On nights and weekends, Shannon finds different ways to build her skills and spur her personal growth.
It took a few years for Shannon to complete her Associate of Arts degree at Thomas Edison State University and, upon graduating in 2008, realized that she needed a new pursuit. A friend invited her to go to a hobby show and Shannon soon found a brand new passion.
Shannon attended a greeting card-making workshop at the show and found that she loved it. She went out, purchased a bunch of supplies, and soon was generating all sorts of amusing and eye-catching designs.
At first she shared her cards with friends, family, and coworkers, who praised her work and asked for more to send to others. She also branched out and began designing wine bottle covers, notebook and post-it pad covers, bookmarks, gift bags, treat holders, and small gift boxes.
She began thinking about what she could do with her card-making skills and her growing stockpile of samples. She didn’t want to start her own full-time business and, while she was happy to offer cards to friends, wanted to do more. She decided that it would be both challenging and charitable if she could donate her cards, in bulk, to a worthwhile local charity.
She knew of Parker Home, which runs a senior residence in her hometown, and thought that they might be able to use the cards. She contacted Parker and shortly afterwards the senior manager of volunteers, Catherine Martino, wrote back to enthusiastically respond to her offer to donate greeting cards.
Since October 2015, Shannon has been dropping off batches of 50 birthday cards, every other month. Parker is delighted to use these cards to greet residents and participants on their birthdays.
Each card is truly an original work of art and love; Shannon develops the color scheme, creates the design using rubber stamps, adds color, embellishments or glitter as needed, and a birthday greeting on the front and inside of each card. Each one can take ten – twenty minutes to create and when it’s done, she ‘autographs’ it with her author’s stamp on the back.
Shannon states: “I enjoy making these cards for the seniors, because they make people happy and put a smile on their face. My future plans are to continue to make and donate cards to Parker as long as they are accepting them. It’s a pleasure to know they are going to a wonderful cause.”
Catherine Martino said that when she first invited Shannon to donate the cards, she wasn’t sure what to expect. “When they arrived, the cards far exceeded my expectations. They’re beautiful and very charming. Parker loves giving them to our residents and participants, who are pleased to receive them. We cannot thank Shannon enough for her creative contributions. They’re a wonderful addition to our work in senior services.”