Friday, March 21, 2008

The Piecemakers Quilting Group Of Henderson, Nevada

Charlie Gibson of the ABC Evening News has awarded "The Piecemakers" Quilting Group in Henderson, Nevada as the ABC News "Person of the Week".

This small group of quilters at the Central Christian Church in Henderson, Nevada (just outside of Las Vegas) has made and given away over 800 quilts from their quilting ministry to patients battling cancer. The small quilting group was originally begun by one of the quilters, the late Joyce Koonz, who was, herself, battling cancer. In spite of her own challenges, Joyce still wanted to reach out and support other cancer patients going through chemo-therapy.

She gathered together a group of quilters and they quickly taught others to cut, sew or quilt. The small initial group grew to include anyone willing to help, whether they thought they could sew or not. Group members all work together, some cutting, some sewing, some writing on Bible verses by hand onto the quilts and all coming together and offering up a prayer as a quilt is completed.

As group member Dorothy Fletcher says "The verses that are on the quilts we picked are to bring comfort, to bring peace and to bring hope."

Filled with beautiful and uplifting Bible verses amidst the nine patches, the split rails, and lots and lots of appliqued hearts, the handwritten words only seem to further echo the obvious handprints I could feel written on each quilter's heart.

Originally, the quilts went to members of the church, but now they go out to anyone who needs them. The ABC news team showed one woman receiving the gift of her lap quilt and caught the deep emotion such a gift the tears streamed down her face. A quilt takes many, many weeks to make and the group is a small one, but they all work hard and quickly, with anyone helping in any way that they can.

As Dorothy Fletcher says"We just never know where these quilts are going to end up. It brings comfort to the person, sometimes to the survivors after their loved ones have passed on. And that's a double blessing."

It did my own heart such good just watching this news piece. I was so moved that I left my own on-line message at the news site. I was already the 170th person to do so...and it took me a while to sign up and sign in!

Having spent the last four years of my own life....sewing both at home and at a downtown Salem, Oregon church...endlessly making comfort quilts for others, it made me realize just how much it truly means to those who receive them. Almost as much as it means to those of us who are blessed in the making of them.
I have been amazed at the comments left both at the ABC website on this news story, and the e-mails that I have personally received. There are so many people who desperately want a quilt for a loved one battling cancer or who want to donate to this group in some way.
I can tell from the hundreds of comments that the story received that this little group must be absolutely overwhelmed by the requests. I have been happy to accept some of the e-mails that accidentally came to me because of this story and try to give suggestions on how to donate locally in their own cities or towns, or how to reach local quilting groups for a donation of a quilt.

Watching these quilt makers, this wonderful group of "Piecemakers" only reminded me of how this just might be the 'piece' we all seek.For the Henderson, Nevada group are truly "Peacemakers' in Quilting.
ABC link to Henderson, NV 'Piecemakers', see video of newsclip upper right:

Check out my own related links for our quilting group here in Salem, OR:
Salem (Quiltathon) Community Quilters
Patriotic Heartstrings Quilting Project