Palisades-Founded Dollies Making A Difference Closes Shop in 2020

DMAD celebrating at its 2019 holiday party.
Photo courtesy of Cindy Simon

By LILY TINOCO | Reporter

A group of women in Pacific Palisades joined together in 2010 following the devastating Haiti earthquake to help children who were affected by providing comfort through their one-of-a-kind, handmade dolls. After meeting (and surpassing) their goal of 500 dollies to distribute, they asked, “Why stop now?”

Since then they have notably become Dollies Making A Difference, and have created Dollies and Teddy Bears for children all over the world.

In the last 10 years, more than 17,000 children received a gift from DMAD across 477 locations—as near as Santa Monica, as far as Africa and beyond, according to the organization’s website.

Palisadians Cindy Simon and Dorothy Miyake founded DMAD together and have been friends for over 25 years, staying connected through their volunteer work. The two consider themselves “perfect partners.”

Photo courtesy of Haylie Wollitz

Working alongside Simon and Miyake were “around the table” members who would gather at Simon’s Huntington house on Wednesday mornings to assemble the Dollies. Once these dolls and teddies were complete, Dollie Ambassadors would transport them to children individually while on medical missions, humanitarian visits and more.

Simon shared the organization is like a three-legged tool.

“The first leg is the community of women around the table, and the support and fellowship they exchange,” she explained. “The second leg is the good feeling the Dollie Ambassador receives when personally handing a Dollie or Teddy Bear to a child, that special connection this establishes. The third [leg] is the joy the child gets from receiving a one-of-a-kind Dollie or Teddy Bear.”

But after years of serving children in need of something special, DMAD has made the unanimous decision to close the beloved organization in 2020.

“In 10 years, we accomplished a lot,” Simon shared with the Palisadian-Post. “We felt satisfied that it was the right time to move onto other ventures and avenues where we could be of service to those in need.”

The group shared that they “rest comfortably” in their decision to close the shop, and hope to carry on the lessons and values they acquired as they explore their future endeavors.

DMAD is currently in the process of closing its organization. They are hoping to donate supplies, such as fabric, trim and yarn, to nonprofit organizations, schools or art programs.

Community members can contact Simon at to share suggestions.