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Woman helps provide 'comfort' for local children

April 26, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

Being active is something Juanita Gliniak recommends to anyone, young or old.

At age 85, she always is on the go.

For eight years, Juanita has been actively involved in Triad, an organization of Washington County senior citizens dedicated to community service for all ages.

Her association with Triad began in 1999, when she was making calls to shut-ins for the S.A.L.T. Council.

S.A.L.T. is an acronym for Seniors and Law Enforcement Together.

"There was an opening for someone to make comfort dolls," Juanita said. Comfort dolls are provided to area law enforcement officers to give to children who are involved in accidents, domestic disputes or other frightening occurrences.

Juanita serves as Triad's clearinghouse for the comfort dolls, which are made by senior citizen groups and individuals who have the time and talent to make them.

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"That first year, we got about 200 dolls - enough to take care of the Washington County Sheriff's deputies only," Juanita said.

After a story was published in the local newspaper, people began calling with offers to help with the project, Juanita said. Some of those volunteers still are making dolls today.

Juanita said some volunteers create the doll forms while others make the faces and attach TRIAD labels on the dolls' backs. Others add the fiberfill to the dolls and store the dolls until they are distributed.

In 2006, 29 volunteers worked on the comfort doll project.

"I don't even have to call them - they just love doing it," said Juanita, whose contribution is putting on some of the faces.

Juanita also came up with the idea to put hearts on the dolls, some sewn and some drawn.

"I currently have 550 dolls in storage and another 100 that we are working on," Juanita said. "I put 50 dolls in a bag for distribution."

In addition to law enforcement officers, dolls are provided for children being fingerprinted.

Born in Ridgeway, W.Va., Juanita came to Washington County in the 1930s because of her father's work with Potomac Edison. She graduated from Hagerstown High School in 1940.

"I met my husband at Newberry's, where I worked," Juanita said. "He'd come in and flirt with me."

At that time, Stanley Gliniak was in the military and was stationed at Shangri-La (now Camp David).

Determined to become a nurse, Juanita attended nursing school at South Baltimore General Hospital for three years, graduating as a registered nurse in 1946.

One year later, she and Stanley married. Juanita worked at Fairchild as a nurse, and later with Dr. James Dwyer, a Hagerstown surgeon.

"My daughter, Emily, was born in 1953, and I didn't work for the next 22 years," Juanita said.

During Emily's early years, Juanita said, she and her daughter would go to the Washington County Hospital snack bar, giving Juanita a chance to connect with nurses and doctors she had known when she was working.

When Emily began school, Juanita became active in Girl Scouts, homemakers clubs and as a homeroom mom.

Emily is married and the mother of 25-year-old twins Matthew Hobby and Megan Hobby Dingle, and Ashleigh Hobby, 21, a nursing student at Towson (Md.) University.

Juanita went back to work at a Pennsylvania convalescent home when she was in her 50s.

"I dearly loved nursing," she said.

After Juanita retired, she looked around for ways to be useful and active in the community, especially after her husband died in 1992.

"I was never one to stay at home - I like to be with people," Juanita said.

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