Side Hustle: Finding Joy in the Basics with Tiffany Tscherne
It’s often the simplest things that bring the most contentment; a delicious cup of coffee, a favorite sweater that never loses its coziness. Or homemade bread and handcrafted socks if you’re lucky enough to have Tiffany Tscherne for a coworker or boss.
Tscherne, VP of Patient Care Services for Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, was inspired by a community member that donated fresh bread to staff when the COVID pandemic began unfolding in 2020.
“It wasn’t fancy, but it was something,” Tscherne says. “That kind of compassion stuck with me. So as COVID continued to progress, I asked myself what I could do for others. I decided to learn how to make sourdough bread. I made myself a starter, and it was game on. I now make a chocolate cherry and a jalapeno beer sourdough bread, too.”
Tscherne is also a crafty person who found her people in northern Maine. She wanted to do with clothes what she did with bread. But what could she make? As with all communities, Bangor’s homeless population has continual needs, especially during the winter months when keeping warm is critical. Nurses are also on their feet 12+ hours a day.
“I don’t knit fast, but there are these antique sock machines, and it just so happened that Maine has an expert that lived really close by,” Tscherne says. “I can crank out a pair of socks in an hour. Now, socks adorn the feet of my coworkers, are hung from donation-seeking Christmas trees, and there is always a pile down in the emergency room to give out.”
Tscherne does not accept any compensation for her bread and sock making, calling it her “weekday and weekend joy.”
But what is even more satisfying for Tscherne is that her colleagues are figuring out more ways to cheer each other on. Now, people bring in homemade cinnamon rolls, cookies, and doughnuts. Someone began making scarves. Another department has regularly scheduled pasta dinners.
Among a laundry list of large and small items, nurses need two crucial things to make it through the days: to be comfortable and to be fed.
“It’s been a stressful 20 months, and people need something to grab on to, to make them feel good, and push them to the next part of their day. This is just a way to say, ‘Hey, I am in this with you,’” Tscherne says.