A young girl named Jess
Rawdon was extremely
excited to assist her aunt at
work one day. And though at
the time she might not have
known precisely what to
expect, she was still amazed
at what she saw. Her aunt  
(an occupational therapist)
worked with people who
could not write, people who
had severe speech
impediments, and even those
who couldn’t talk. From that
day on, Jess had pretty
much decided what she
wanted to do: She, like her
aunt, wanted to become an
occupational therapist.
Years later Jess Rawdon
attended the University of
New Hampshire. It was there
that she underwent a five-
year masters program, and
so far she was fulfilling her
dream of leading a career like
her aunt’s. But, everyone
has their own path to take
and hers differed a little from
her aunt’s. Instead of
working with patients who
have severe, hands-on,
physical problems, she now
helps children work through
the emotional problems they
are facing. We all face
emotional struggles at some
point in our lives, but
sometimes the children Jess
works with have been
abused or neglected and she
is someone they can talk to.
She currently works at Tufts
Medical Center, Boston, in
the inpatient pediatric
psychiatry unit. In the 7-10
days that children generally
reside there, she is not only
someone they can talk to,
but also someone that they
can get things like stress
balls from. On top of that she
does projects with them.
These projects not only help
to build self-esteem and gain
independence but also
provide them with tactics for
them to use in life, even after
they leave. But sometimes it
is merely an opportunity to
create beauty; one of Jess’s
favorite projects is a papier-
mâchè volcano. While they
create this volcano, they
discuss anger, and how if
anger is kept inside too long
it can erupt from within, just
like a volcano erupts lava.
Yet another project the
children did was a beach
scene, to which each child
added their own building.
They formed a boardwalk of
Popsicle sticks, a hut out of
a paper bag and every
participant added their own
unique building and/or shop.
Along with inventing fun
projects for them to do, Jess
also provides entertaining
courses for them to take. For
example, they can do
culinary arts, yoga, painting,
and sewing. One girl, with
guidance from Jess, produced a quilt. The quilt that this child
made probably would have been warm in and of itself, but she
also put some rice inside the layers of the quilt to provide it
with some heft. Just enough heft, that when she draped it
over her shoulders, it felt like she was being hugged. Because
sometimes all we need is a warm and reassuring embrace to
let us know that everything is going to be okay.
Every day in the afternoon the children who are permitted to
leave the unit go up onto the highest floor of the hospital (the
eighth floor, which gets priority on the elevator, meaning it goes
directly to that floor, regardless of any other buttons that had
been pressed). On the eighth floor is a gigantic room, donated by
the family of Garnet “Ace” Bailey, a hockey player who died on
September 11th, 2001. The room (called “Ace’s Place”) is filled
with board games (lining a whole wall), a big foosball table, a vin-
tage looking jukebox (which still is in working condition), coloring
books for the younger  kids, a computer, and more.
Then, when you walk outside two double doors, it is as if you are
suddenly transported to another world. Really though, you are in
an enormous fenced in roof. You are almost level to the
surrounding buildings, and far below you is the busy Washington
Street. Even though you are high above everything (and on a
roof) you feel completely safe. Around you are climbing
structures and basketball hoops. To us, just the thought of
playing basketball on a roof was exhilarating.
This though is a place for healing, not just play and some of the
children with whom Jess works have faced serious trauma. When
we inquired what advice Jess would give to the children of the
world, her reply was basically this. “Hold on, don’t give up, soon
you will be an adult and have even better ways to get yourself out
of horrible situations.”
The organization that Jess works with does an exponential
amount of good for the children of our community and beyond.
When we were there Jess informed us of something very sad;
she said that because her organization wasn’t receiving enough
funding they might be closing. Through this article we hope we
can inform you of many things, but we also hope that we were
able help you see the importance of the work of Jess and her
   -3-                                      /end
Proger Point on display the
summer of 2009. The  model
beach and boardwalk resort
village built by the kids of
Proger 6 is a great example
of art therapy.
Marisa, Gabi, and Jess: Mario Bros. pinball, Ace’s Place, Floating
Hospital for Children, Boston, MA
Gabi, Jess and
Marisa: rooftop
basketball court
of the Floating
Hospital for
Boston, MA
Save Proger Point
by Gabi Mathews and Marisa Rafal
classic article
(c) 2010 Gabi Matthews and Marisa Rafal