Carol Brown’s dresses make children feel great, inside and out.
From her sewing room in Montrose, Penn., Carol Brown’s machine whirs and zips, connecting pieces of summery, cheerful fabric in order to create the 100 or so sundresses she donates annually to the Floating Hospital’s yearly holiday bazaar, Candy Cane Lane. But while cutting out and sewing dozens of clothes for little girls may seem like grueling work, for Brown the prolific stitching is nothing less than a labor of love.
She learned her love of sewing from her mother, but years of full-time work and parenting left her with little time to indulge her passion. After retiring, Brown began using her talent to sew clothes and other items for myriad groups in need. But when Floating Hospital President, Sean Granahan—also a Montrose resident—came and spoke about his organization in their town, Brown was drawn to the clinic’s mission and wanted to help bring joy to the children who needed it most.
“Growing up, when I was a little girl, if I got new dress I thought I was a movie star. I think every little girl should have a nice dress and feel pretty,” she said. She and her sister came up with a pattern that uses the fabric as efficiently as possible. “The straps tie so you can grow with them,” she explained. Last year, she enlisted the help of a few fellow seamstresses and doubled her output, creating 200 dresses for Candy Cane Lane, plus pillow cases to send to children attending the Floating Hospital’s Camp Rise Up. And she’s on target to do the same this year.
“I believe we do what we can do. I always encourage people: If you have an interest in something that you enjoy and have the time and means to do for others, go for it,” she says. “Giving is the most gratifying thing you can do in your life.”
Since 1866, The Floating Hospital has been the largest provider of healthcare and education to families living with homelessness. Based in Long Island City, it provides comprehensive primary, dental and behavioral-health services, and health-education to patients living in more than 300 shelters and domestic violence safe houses throughout New York City.
In 2021, The Floating Hospital moved into a new modern main clinic in Long Island City, and continues to support patients in satellite clinics at family homeless shelters and public housing complexes in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx.