- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Spring 2018
Quilts for Good
In each issue of Friends@Festival, we spotlight individuals and groups who are using quilting or sewing to give back to the community at large. If you know of a person or organization that you would like to be considered for inclusion in a future edition of “Quilts for Good,” email the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ST. PHILIP STITCHERS–QUILTERS
Among the many charitable efforts and groups at St. Philip Presbyterian Church in Houston is one that is particularly close to our hearts. The St. Philip Stitchers–Quilters lovingly create quilts for children attending The House of Tiny Treasures, an early childhood development center dedicated to providing a high-quality education for children, ages two to five years, who are either homeless or living in deep poverty.
The House of Tiny Treasures (HTT) was established by Houston-based SEARCH Homeless Services, which helps thousands of families move from homelessness into jobs and safe, stable homes each year. After SEARCH opened, it quickly became clear that their adult clients also needed quality child care so that they could go back to work or school. So, the group opened HTT in 1992, and it has since evolved from a traditional day care into a nationally accredited early childhood education center.
The St. Philip Stitchers–Quilters meet once a month at the St. Philip Arts & Crafts Studio to create youth quilts for students at HTT. You can view an album of some of the quilts and their makers HERE.
The group also visits HTT’s two campuses one or two times a year, and collects items year-round—including clothing, toiletries, books, and art supplies—to donate to the schools during their visits.
Members (and quilts) from St. Philip Stitchers-Quilters.
As is often the case with the groups and projects we spotlight in our “Quilts for Good” pieces, one of the less tangible—but equally important—benefits of the work that the group is doing is spreading the love and joy of using quilting to give back to the community.
Following a donation of sample fabrics our company (Quilts, Inc.) made
to the group last year, we received an email from one of the group’s members, Hope Wilmarth. She explained that, in addition to the fabrics being used in their own donation quilts for HTT, another of the group’s members—a woman who had been in Houston for a year of treatment
at MD Anderson and who regularly joined the group meet-ups while
there—was returning to Chicago with some of the samples, and had started a mission with her sewing group there to make quilts for
children in foster care.
Hester Rodgers (right with bell) and Connie Sieverding, who nominated Rodgers for the award. Photo courtesy of Ben’s Bells Project.
TUSCON WOMAN ORGANIZES QUILT SUPPLY DRIVE FOR
We recently came across an inspiring story in the Arizona Daily Star for their weekly “Ben’s Bells” feature, which promotes kindness and community involvement by highlighting a person (deemed a “Belle” and awarded a “Ben’s Bell”) who makes Tuscon a better place.
For their March 19 edition, the newspaper and Ben’s Bells Project recognized Hester Rodgers, a Tuscon-area quilter and member of the Saddlebrooke Friday Quilters and Tuscon Quilt Guild. Following Hurricane Harvey, Rodgers organized a donation drive to help quilting groups in the Corpus Christi, Texas area.
Among the items donated were sewing machines, fabric, quilting rulers, sewing machine needles, thread, pins, quilt kits, and more. After gathering the donations from both the Tuscon and Phoenix areas, she rented a truck in Phoenix to bring all of the donations back to Tuscon, where they filled a room in her home, half of her garage, and half of a neighbor’s garage.
“After working with two quilting guilds in Texas,” the article says, “Hester rented a 15-foot U-Haul truck in January to deliver the donations there. She did this at her own expense and expected nothing in return. Hester’s actions are truly an act of thoughtful kindness.”
LIBRARIES PARTNER WITH CLUBS TO CREATE “FIDGET QUILTS”
If you’re a quilter, you’ve likely heard of fidget quilts, the small, interactive lap quilts used to help reduce anxiety in those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. A quick Google search for “fidget quilts” turns up literally thousands of results, including many instructional posts like this Alzheimer’s Activity Mat tutorial from “Sewing with Nancy.”
The idea behind a fidget quilt or wearable apron is that it provides a needed distraction when it’s most needed. A recent article in American Libraries magazine quotes Hadi Finerty, senior manager of education and outreach at the Joliet, Illinois, chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, as saying that fidget quilts are particularly helpful during what is called “sundowning.”
“A lot of times, when the sun goes down, [people with dementia or Alzheimer’s] get more anxious and start to ask, ‘When am I going home,’” she explains. “Fidget quilts redirect them to something different.”
Among the groups mentioned in the article, all of whom have successfully integrated fidget quilts into their community outreach programs, are the St. Charles, Illinois Public Library (SCPL), the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, Illinois, and the Lafayette, Louisiana Public Library.
David Kelsey, outreach services librarian at SCPL, says he first heard of the idea during a presentation by Glenna Godinsky, life enrichment liaison at Gail Borden Public Library. Godinsky’s library had partnered with an area quilting club to create and donate fidget quilts to patrons with memory loss or other cognitive issues.
At SCPL, thanks to several recent events during which residents created and stitched fidget quilts, the library has been able to pass along around 50 quilts since summer 2017 to those in need.
At the Lafayette Public Library this past fall, several sessions were held in library makerspaces, where visitors could assemble their own fidget quilts. The makerspace’s 3-D printers were also used to create items such as keys and rings that could be sewn onto the quilts. A dozen of those quilts were donated to area assisted-living facilities, and the events were so popular, the library plans to double its number of sewing machines available in order to facilitate the making of more quilts in the future.
A sample fidget quilt. Photo from American