Meet Rose Kozdra, Bringing Jayme’s Bears to Life!

Note: We recently interviewed Rose Kozdra, Jayme’s sewing teacher, who was instrumental in developing the Jayme’s Bears Project. Read more to learn about Jayme from Rose’s perspective, as well as about her involvement with Jayme’s Fund over the last two decades. 

My name is Rose Kozdra. Jayme was my [sewing] student for a couple of years. Jayme started [attending classes] around the time she was ten. What always stuck out to me about Jayme was, she was never concerned about fitting in. She knew herself; she knew what she wanted to do. 

She was very bright. She took to sewing–she would take instruction, and then she would just take off. She was very creative and enjoyed the projects that she created!

When Jayme decided to do the bear project [for her bat mitzvah], she knew she needed polar fleece, and I worked at the Malden Mills store in Lawrence at that time…. I gave her contact info…She wrote the letter to the owner of the company, and within a few days, she had bolts of polar fleece. She was thrilled!

I was in Florida for a week back in April and came home. Jayme’s death was front page news – it was all so surreal…. being a mom, I have a daughter of my own, and a son…I was just devastated. It wasn’t until years later, when Caren approached me with the idea for making Jayme’s Bears, that I felt I could contribute something significant to honor Jayme. 

You must wonder what she would have accomplished. 

She was destined to make a difference…. change the world…you just knew she was going to. She was going to do great things, and the fund certainly carries on her legacy. 

I was aware of Jayme’s Fund starting up…. I remember Caren pitching the bear thing, and we discussed it for quite a while before it actually happened…It just took on so many different versions. First, Caren wanted to sell them to raise money, but it became clear at some point that they we needed to give them away to children in need, just like Jayme did. 

It made a lot of sense because of Jayme’s connection to the bears and why she made them.  It also made sense to bring together the local community to make the bears.…. I was very eager to jump on board and help Caren start. Since then, we have held countless bear-making events and have given away hundreds of bears to children in need. It’s been an amazing experience to see the involvement and joy of so many people making, giving away, and receiving the bears. 

You don’t need sewing experience to make bears or to be involved in the project. Lots of steps go into making a bear. You can cut patterns; you can tie bows and package bears; you can also organize an event and even deliver the bears…It really has been a lot of fun. 

The community that we’ve developed among Jayme’s bears is a pretty cool thing. I embrace that, I enjoy it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

It’s a coming together of people for such a great cause, such a great purpose, to carry out her legacy in any way we can. 

Notes from Jayme’s Fund:  

Rose also related to us that a couple of months ago, a friend of hers said, “Oh Rose, Liz [her friend’s daughter] was awarded the Jayme’s Fund scholarship [given at Pinkerton Academy] …Isn’t that the organization that you make the bears for?” What a small world moment that must have been, to have such a very good friend of yours have a daughter that received a scholarship from an organization you knew so well! We often see these lovely circles of giving in our work.

We are grateful for you, Rose, for sharing your time and stories with us, and we are so appreciative of your contributions to Jayme’s Fund and for all you taught Jayme and your role in her life. We know Jayme chose you to play a role in her Bat Mitzvah too, showing how much you meant to her. We know you’ve made a difference for so many through your work with Jayme’s bears, and we hope to do more events with you in the future. And with your dear family members, immediate and extended, who have been so intimately involved in all aspects of the fund–including the grand-kids!

Want to learn more about Rose and stay connected? You can find her business, Main Street Sewing Studio, on Facebook:

Image Description:

Rose, with mostly white hair, tanned white skin, and glasses, smiles, center, with her granddaughter Lilly, sewing at Timberland’s Jayme’s Bears event. She sits looking at the camera from behind a sewing machine in front of a black curtain. In the foreground is a light blue bear with a multicolored ribbon and a heart on its chest, with letters spelling out ROSE BEAR. Additional colorful fabric material sits in front of her sewing machine, and next to her Lilly, a smiling young person, is also at work sewing.

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