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A Labor of Love for Reston's Peg Brown

Reston woman delivers 1,000th handmade blanket to Inova's NICU.

For many years, little babies have been going home from Inova Fairfax Children's Hospital wrapped in an afghan made with love by Reston's Peg Brown.

Peg and her husband, Nick Brown (Reston Citizens Association 2012 Citizen of the Year), recently delivered Peg’s 1,000th granny-square afghan blanket to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Inova Children’s Hospital.

Peg, despite dealing with medical problems of her own, has been creating the quilts since 2004, when she learned that some babies went home from the hospital wrapped in a towel, often because the parents could not afford baby-sized warm blankets.

“Something in my heart told me that these babies needed a hug,” Peg says. “I hope that these blankets show the parents and the babies, that someone is thinking about them.”

Peg Brown started out by knitting booties and made over 300 pairs for the hospital. After she realized they would be quickly outgrown, she switched to crocheting afghans, which can be used and kept for years.

Sadly, the the afghans are also sometimes used as a bereavement remembrance.

Peg makes about 200 afghans each year. She says it takes 10 hours to make one afghan (over 10,000 hours of work). Peg continued to crochet while recovering from cancer surgeries in both lungs and chemotherapy.

She had a setback last summer, when shoulder and back pain prevented her from crocheting. In September, she was diagnosed with Stage IV bone cancer. With radiation therapy for pain, she was able to complete the final 20 of her 1,000 Afghans this month.

This month, the Browns received the March of Dimes Starfish Award, usually given to staff that families feel have gone beyond the call of duty.  Peg and Nick are the first non-March of Dimes staff members to receive the starfish pin.

In 2012, Peg and Nick were also honored by Volunteer Fairfax, with the Volunteer Family of the Year award.

An Inova spokeswoman says Peg’s 1,000th afghan will be framed and hung in the NICU as a keepsake that will mark the thousands of hours Peg has committed to the children.

Laurie Levine December 25, 2012 at 03:24 PM
What a beautiful story. Thank you, Peg, for your wonderful work and thank you Patch for sharing it.
SIDS advocate December 25, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Heavy blankets such as these are not endorsed by the Academy of Pediatrics and should not be used for babies.
Stella McEnearny December 25, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Peg, what a creative, generous, warm-hearted lady you are! Thanks for your rich contributions to these newborns; your work is lovely!! (I love crocheting granny-square afghans, too - so cozy!). Merry Christmas, and a very happy, healthy 2013 to you!
Lucy December 25, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Peg, I'm alone on Christmas but reading this story has brought warmth and hope to my heart! Thank you for being the wonderful person that you are! I alway's thought that when I retired I would offer to spend time in the NICU to give parent's a rest and the knowledge that their babies were not alone. Due to health problem's of my own I've not been able to do so. Your action's have given me a gift today that can't be bought--hope. Blessing's to you and your family!!
Ray Wedell December 25, 2012 at 11:49 PM
This is an incredible story. God bless you.
mandy guernsey December 26, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Thank you so much Peg for your incredible spirit and generosity! I treasure the blanket you gave us last spring!
Kathy Boileau December 27, 2012 at 01:22 AM
These afghans have many "air holes" in the pattern and should not obstruct breathing. I am sure that if they were dangerous, the NICU nurses would not allow them to be sent home with newborns. Kathy B, RN
Arwen Tinker February 19, 2013 at 06:18 PM
As a follow up to this story, I am extremely sad to say that Peggy Brown, my mother, passed away February 16th when she lost the battle to cancer. @SIDS advocate - I spent my whole life wrapped up in her afghans made of love, and sobbed through the one she was wearing when she passed. There is no danger to the babies to which she gave afghan hugs.
Danielle Bischoff February 21, 2013 at 02:39 AM
I am so sorry for your loss Arwen. We delivered twins at INVOA FFX in October 2010 and although we lost our daughter, our son received a blanket from your mother. I want you to know that we cherish that blanket and it brings me a warm reminder of how far our little one has come. He was born a tiny 2 lb 2 oz and has beat many odds over the last 2 years. Your mother was such a generous woman to dedicate so much of her time over the years. Her memory will live with our family and surely be handed down for generations to come. Thank you.

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