By INDIANA NASH
NISKAYUNA — The sugary smell of cookies hangs in the air of the kitchen where a group known as the Nurses Cookie Project is gathered to bake, despite the 85 degree weather.
“It’s really hot today so we tried to bake before coming together too,” said Janina Pierotti, the founding member of the Project, as other group members hurry around the kitchen packaging up some of the cookies they’d made earlier.
The Nurses Cookie Project began a year ago with six women who wanted to use their baking skills to donate to those who might not ever have any family members to bake for them.
Pierotti has always loved to bake.
“I am just always baking, and being a nurse, my job can get pretty stressful,” said Pierotti.
Coming back to her home in Niskayuna after a long shift, she would start baking to relax and get her mind off of the stress of the day.
But there are only so many cookies that one household can eat, Pierotti said.
So a few years ago, she started to donate the things she baked to the City Mission of Schenectady.
Soon, she began to connect with other nurses who lived in the area and who enjoyed baking.
Last year, Pierotti opened up on Facebook about how she had been baking to donate to the City Mission and asked if anyone wanted to join.
“As nurses, we love to do things for people and we love giving back,” said Pierotti.
Currently, there are six nurses from hospitals across the Capital Region who are involved in the Nurses Cookie Project.
Every month, the group meets to bake and package the cookies up. Usually, each member brings a few dozen with them and then they bake more throughout the evening.
During the Christmas season, they have a large cookie swap and each member brings nine dozen to donate.
“When I first heard [Pierotti] say nine dozen, I thought that I misheard because nine dozen cookies is a crazy amount … but she meant it and actually baked nine dozen!” said another member, Allison Batty.
Since their beginning a year ago, they’ve also started to donate to the VA hospital in Albany and the YWCA shelter in Schenectady.
After the monthly baking meeting, Pierotti drops off the cookies to the City Mission and to some of the other locations that are in need.
Within the box, the group always includes a short letter with their mission statement and signatures.
“I can see the difference it makes when I go and drop off the cookies,” said Pierotti. She sees the appreciation in the faces of those at the VA and at the City Mission.
“They are always in need and will take however many we can bring to them,” said Pierotti, and she still tears up whenever she thinks about how great the need still is.
Their main motto, which is written on their mission statement, is a quote from Aesop — “No act of kindness however small is ever wasted” — and with the Cookie Project, the nurses aim to not to waste even a crumb of everything they bake.