By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer
Region – A former law firm administrator who grew up in Shrewsbury has not only changed her career, but is also changing the lives of many.
In June 2012, Susan Posterro, now a resident of Grafton, left the professional life she had known for 20 years to follow her passion for helping others.
Now she is founder and executive director of Binkeez for Comfort, a nonprofit organization that provides blankets nationwide to recipients of all ages in hospitals, nursing homes or hospice at no cost to them.
In 1999, Posterro, with the help of her mother Lynne McAtee, created a hand-sewn baby blanket company, carrying on the family tradition started by her grandmother, a seamstress during WWII and throughout her life.
The mother-daughter team created and sold a variety of baby items as gifts, including Binkeez, soft cozy blankets made of colorful fabrics.
Charitable giving had always been part of the duo's business plan. Posterro had spent a year traveling and competing in marathons, triathlons, and other races to raise more than $20,000 for the Tara Bean Foundation, a charity named after a 9-year-old Shrewsbury girl who died from a brain tumor.
McAtee had sewn and donated over 20,000 blankets to infants and children within the United States and third world countries.
So when a longtime friend from Shrewsbury asked Posterro to make a blanket for her son who had been born prematurely, it gave her an idea that would combine her business and her desire to help others.
In December 2011, Posterro donated dozens of blankets to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Conn., where her friend's son had spent the first three months of his life.
The company that began as a commercial enterprise was slowly evolving into one that was entirely dedicated to giving. After a long bureaucratic process, early this year Binkeez for Comfort became a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
“We provide blankets from beginning of life to end of life,” Posterro said, noting that they have already donated 400 blankets as a nonprofit.
Binkeez blankets come in five styles, in different sizes and fabrics based on the age of the recipient. Each blanket is customized with a personal tag and placed inside a personalized cotton drawstring bag.
“It's so much more than a blanket,” Posterro said. “Parents tell me their child won's go to the hospital without it and ask “What do you put into them?””
The answer Posterro always gives is “a lot of love.” Her organization is comprised entirely of volunteers from Central Massachusetts and beyond who donate their time and talent.
Binkeez for Comfort now donates around 30 to 35 blankets a month, a number that may increase as long as it doesn's jeopardize quality and consistency.
“Our goal is to touch as many people as possible without compromising the Binkeez experience,” Posterro said.
Binkeez for Comfort's contributions to others do not end with blanket donations. Posterro and 24 other volunteers and friends also participated in “Pulling for Love, Hope, and Comfort” Oct. 5, to raise money for multiple sclerosis (MS). “Team Binkeez” was one of 30 teams pulling a 727 jet at Rhode Island's T.F. Green Airport for the seventh annual MS Jet Pull, organized by the Rhode Island Chapter of National MS Society.
For the holidays, Binkeez for Comfort will deliver a blanket to every inpatient child at a New England children's hospital. Donations can be made at http://binkeezforcomfort.org/make-a-donation.
Binkeez for Comfort also seeks material donations. While they cannot accept fabric donations because of quality and safety standards, the organization welcomes donations of thread, scissors, measuring tapes, sewing machines, and other sewing necessities.
Binkeez for Comfort recently found a home at Craftworks in Northborough for commercial sewing and production space, as well as to allow community outreach opportunities to help sew.
They will be hosting a sew-a-thon at Craftworks, 243 W. Main St., Friday, Oct. 18 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. to help with the blankets for the New England Children's Hospital delivery.
“And we always need more volunteers,” Posterro noted.
When asked how this new career compares to her former one, said Posterro: “It's the hardest but best work I'se ever done.”
For more information or to donate, visit www.binkeezforcomfort.org.