The loss of a dear young friend, combined with a friendship dating back to kindergarten and a junior high school home economics class, has resulted in a wonderful legacy in memory of late Bangor resident Cristin “Cristy” Sullivan Warstler.
A clinical psychologist at Eastern Maine Medical Center, Cristy was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 31 and died of the disease five years later in January 2009.
Longtime friends Ellen Russell of Bangor and Janet Bertucci of Winterport are members of TeamCristy, founded by Cristy after her diagnosis to raise funds for the Susan G. Komen Maine Affiliate Race for the Cure.
While it has been difficult for them to continue participating in that event since Cristy’s death, Ellen and Janet, who were sewing partners in 1958 at the former Garland Street Junior High School in Bangor, have found a creative outlet to help raise funds for TeamChristy: making wine wraps.
Beginning in October with fall colors, then making wraps for the winter holidays, the women now are selling them for Valentine’s Day, inviting you to “Raise a Glass of Wine to Cristy” as you toast your loved one and help support Maine’s Komen affiliate.
Through January, the wraps had raised $1,659 for TeamCristy, which often has been one of the top fundraising teams for the Komen Maine event.
The attractive wraps, reasonably priced at $7, are suitable for any bottle, and you can see them at several area stores, including State Street Wine Cellar, Natural Living Center, Metropolitan Soul, Rebecca’s and Ingrid’s German Gift Shop, all in Bangor; Ampersand in Orono; Schacht’s Gifts in Hampden; BookStacks in Bucksport; Winterport Winery; The Good Table in Belfast; For Dogs Boutique in Holden; and John Edwards Market in Ellsworth.
You also should know that the wraps come in a variety of designs, not just for Valentine’s, and are available at several of those locations; that special orders or requests are most welcome; and that you can receive more information by e-mailing TeamCristy@aol.com or calling 944-1441.
The wine wraps first were introduced at State Street Wine Cellar, where Cristy’s friend, storeowner and fellow Komen supporter Shane McCarthy, proudly has them on display, complete with an explanation of the project and a photo of Cristy.
All proceeds from sales directly benefit the Komen Maine affiliate, because all the fabric and ribbon, even “ideas and moral support,” are supplied by friends, Ellen and Janet told me.
While Ellen and Janet are making most of the wraps, another TeamChristy member, Morgan Mazzei of Bangor, came up with an even more unique way to make wine wraps for the fundraiser.
Morgan is making them from sleeves of old wool sweaters, to which she adds felt for an original wool design.
When I visited with Ellen, Janet and Shane at State Street Wine Cellar to discuss the project, it was obvious that this is about much more than raising funds for Komen: It’s about love, friendship, loss, remembering and honoring a commitment to help find a cure for breast cancer.
Janet and Ellen assured me that as long as people keep buying the wraps, they’ll keep making them, and Shane even suggested that they come up with a design for mud season in Maine.
The women reminded me that the wine wraps are recyclable, and as I purchased one, I thought of whom I might give it to and where I might see it again.
We all agreed that it gives you a very nice feeling when you purchase something and know that the proceeds will benefit others.
When I asked the women how long it takes to make a wine wrap, Janet was quick to point out that Ellen is really the expert, since she can whip one off in a half-hour while it takes Janet about two hours.
But the time and the effort do not matter, because it truly is a labor of love.
So if you haven’t purchased your Valentine’s Day gift yet, consider purchasing this one in memory of Cristy and everyone you know who has been affected by breast cancer.
Each wrap has a tag indicating that it is homemade and that proceeds benefit the Susan G. Komen Maine Affiliate Race for the Cure.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; firstname.lastname@example.org; 990-8288.