Every week or so, the small kiln in the back corner of our work room is called upon to stop firing customer works and begin firing something much more important. We fire some small grey clay pendants with little fingerprints in the center. But I should really begin at the beginning.
In 2010, Angelo's Pottery was lucky to have Natalie Bamford working for us. She is the genius behind our bathroom murals (if you haven't seen them - they are worth the trip). Our good fortune, however, was mirrored by Natalie's personal loss. Natalie's brother, Mike Bamford, lost his long and hard-fought battle against a combination of leukemia and cystic fibrosis just before Christmas that year.
At that time, Angelo's offered silver clay pendants. Toward the end, Natalie went to her brother's hospital room at Denver's Children's Hospital and fingerprinted him to make pendants for everyone who asked for one. It was heartbreaking . . . and, at the same time, it felt like we were helping to do something to preserve Mike's connection with his family and loved ones.
After Mike's death, his mother Kelly understood the importance of those little pendants -- how important they were to the people who asked for one. She launched a foundation that provides two gift pendants to families of a terminally ill child on The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders floor at Children's Hospital in Denver. They are called M-Prints. She does 40-50 pendants every year. These pendants are all personally pressed, processed, and polished by Kelly's caring hands. They are beautiful, and they are important. They are important to the parents of these young souls. They are important to the hospital which dedicates a nurse to take the prints for Kelly so that she doesn't have to personally be in Denver. Children's Hospital has recently approached Kelly to increase the scope of the program.
Angelo's has been firing the pendants for about seven years now. We will continue to fire them as long as she continues to make them. When Kelly arrives with pendants to be fired, she gets to be the priority. Kelly is so humble and unassuming and so important to these families. She is passing on "healing" and "connections" with each of these pendants. We, along with Children's Hospital, have become partners with her and formed a community that extends to the other side of the mountain. A community that connects hearts through caring and empathy.