Vital Life Foundation
Marquis Resident Sews Reading Pillows and Donates Books to Quatama Elementary 5TH Graders Marquis’ Vital Life Foundation connects senior volunteers to the community

A classroom of fifth graders in Hillsboro has inspired a flood of creativity in 88-year-old Olga Cook, a resident at Marquis Care at Forest Grove. Cook is donating her handmade reading pillows and bookmarks to a fifth grade class at Quatama Elementary as part of Vital Life, a Marquis program that provides meaningful ways for residents to give back to the community.

On Wednesday, October 22nd, just days after she turns 88, Cook will take her first school bus ride to personally deliver the pillows, bookmarks and a classroom set of brand-new books to fifth graders at Hillsboro’s newest elementary school.

A former professional seamstress, Cook had not had much opportunity to sew in recent years, but she brought out the sewing machine again three weeks ago after Marquis Activities Director LaRayne Barrios told her about the classroom’s need.

"Olga was excited about the idea right away," said Barrios. "She immediately sat down and made her first pillow and then started telling tales of the beautiful gowns she used to make." When she was done with the pillows, Cook insisted on sewing two tote bags, one to fit all 30 pillows and the other to carry the books. In all, she spent more than 35 hours sewing pillows and making bookmarks for the students to use during their daily reading time. Thanks to Marquis’ Vital Life Foundation, Quatama Elementary will receive a $10 donation for every hour of Cook’s time. But for teacher Rachael Wrege, the partnership is about much more than just material goods. "Many of our kids come from low-income families where it’s a struggle to just get the basics, so for someone to make them a pillow especially for them is huge," said Wrege. "Plus, this gives the kids a chance to connect to the community’s seniors in a meaningful way. We hope this is the beginning of a long partnership with Marquis and its residents."

In fact, Marquis residents will soon start writing postcards to students at Quatama Elementary to reward them for finishing a book. Wrege also hopes to start a PenPal partnership between students and seniors at Marquis Care.

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About Marquis Companies

Marquis Companies provide skilled nursing, long-term care, assisted living and memory care throughout its 26 facilities in Oregon, California, Montana, Idaho and Nevada. Marquis’ sister company, Consonus, provides pharmacy, rehabilitation, staffing and consulting to the long-term care community. Both family-owned companies share the mission to promote the vitality within everyone each company serves and its employees - and created its Vital Life Foundation to fulfill that mission.