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September Continues ……..

September 10th

Flo and I began our day at the Tuleburg Quilt Guild in Stockton, CA. I spoke about Quilts of Honor and shared our story of Mt. Vernon.  Then we headed to Antioch to meet our Queen B’s QOH group at the VFW Hall, have dinner, and award three quilts.  After a good dinner, we surprised our recipients with their quilts.  One was a female who has recently accepted the job of Commander of the State of California American Legion.  She is the first female in California history.  So proud of Queen B’s QOH group – they will be awarding a couple more quilts on the 16th.  They have grown and are becoming a big part of Quilts of Honor.  Keep up the great work!

September 14th

The 2nd Annual Quilts of Honor Fundraiser was held at the Scottish Rite Temple in Stockton, CA.  Our two cooks started the morning at 6:30am smoking 20 tri-tips.  Big Rick and little Rick have quite a system and we can’t thank them enough for spending the whole day with us working in the heat, and it was hot in that kitchen.  The food was great – Toni made tons of potato salad and we still ran out.

Our crew arrived at 10:30 am to set up tables, chairs and raffle. We are so blessed to have so many volunteers who are so talented in so many ways, helping us with the dessert raffle and we’re still learning.  For decorations and raffle baskets we have the best in Willene; desserts we have Jackie, Nancy and Sochi’s family.  They were killer desserts and some went for $100 – it was fun to watch people battle for peach pie or chocolate cream pie.  We lost our auctioneer at the last minute and Congressman Jerry McNerney stepped up and earned us $1,282.00.

We had a great awards ceremony awarding 9 quilts. Of course we told them stories to get them there.  I asked Rick to come and play taps  for the event so he came and brought his horn.  I even played along by telling him when he would play so when I called his name to come and receive his quilt, he was speechless.  Each recipient had no idea – it was so great to see how overwhelmed and proud that they were receiving a quilt.  One recipient asked to talk – he said our group have given a quilt to one of his WWII Navy guys last year and he passed away three weeks ago with his quilt on his bed.  He started to cry and said you don’t know how much these quilts mean.

We were honored to have Tim, a professional photographer, come to our event. He took some awesome pictures of our afternoon and shared them with us.  Thank you, Tim.  Andy, Carol and some of our dinner guests helped us serve and I had my adopted grand kids who volunteered all day.  It was my folk’s 64th wedding anniversary also, so that was cool.  My second family came from Gardnerville to surprise me – that meant so much.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the day.  Our QOH team worked hard to make it a honored, proud event.  These pictures are just a sampling of the events of the day.  To see more pictures, visit our Quilts of Honor Facebook page.

To all who supported us, God Bless you. It’s so hard to ask for money and raise money and you all came through.

September 20th and 21st we will be at the Sonora Quilt Show at the Fairgrounds.

September 24th is our QOH Workshop.

September is keeping us going,

Gail

We Never Stop

I really have been trying to keep up on our Blog but sometimes I just run out of time.  Here’s what we have been up to since the last post.

We attended our first Car Show at the Lincoln Center in Stockton, CA on August 15th.  I have never seen so many cars and people.  The Village Barber Shop sponsored us a spot so we could sell our shirts.  The evening started with a quilt ceremony.  The colors were posted by Karl Ross Post 16 American Legion, the national anthem was sung, and then we did something very different.  We had John, a Native American, bless the quilts.  It was so spiritual and you could see the love while he was blessing the quilts.  Then we began to award quilts.  The first quilt went to Terry, a Vietnam veteran who had no idea – he thought he was coming to sing a song he had written about Vietnam.  His reaction was total surprise and his face lit up.  We then awarded another eleven quilts to mostly WWII veterans.  All had never been thanked and so many were overwhelmed.  One that stood out in my mind was a gentleman with a cane.  As he reached me he said, “I have never, never had a thank you.  This is just so nice.”  It was the way he looked at me, he was so sincere.  We had a good evening with a great flyover.  The evening ended with my playing taps for everyone.

The following weekend, Debbie and I headed to Milpitas for the Orange Brotherhood BBQ.  As we walked in, there were people packed in the backyard – 140 people – a record for this group.  None of our veterans knew they were to receive quilts.  We were to award quilts to 10 veterans and two memorial quilts.  From the first quilt each veteran had tears.  The Orange Brotherhood is an organization where all veterans have been exposed to Agent Orange.  So often the veterans are in and out of hospitals depending on the degree of their exposure.  Quilts of Honor has worked with this group for three years.  Twice a year they have a QOH ceremony but often the veterans become sick so we push the quilt through whenever they need one.  This year we sent quilts twice but the veterans passed before the quilts could be awarded.  We felt so sad.  So instead, two families were invited to the BBQ not knowing they were going to receive a quilt.  We called each wife up and presented their quilts and then had all the families come up.  I snuck to the corner of the yard, Phil called everyone to attention, and I played taps.  They said it was pretty awesome.

Debbie and I hit the road running as we had another event to attend – the Orange and Black Ball – with our partners United Way of San Joaquin County.  We drove to Stockton, changed our clothes, picked up Flo and off we went again.  By the time we were done that day we were pooped.

We had our workday on August 27th with a full house and so thankful for all the help.  We have added extra work days to try and get quilts ready for all our events in September, October and Mount Vernon in November.  We will be going to the Denair Car Show on September 13th; our fundraiser in Stockton on September 14th; the Sonora quilt show September 20th and 21st; and workshop on September 24th.  So we are busy continuing our mission.

Thank you to all who support us.  God bless until next time,
Gail

Honoring our Heroes

I don’t know what happened to July – I just realized it’s August – I must have been sleeping.

July began with a drive to Gustine for the 4th of July to award quilts.  As we were going down the road I mentioned to Flo that I needed a new watch because all of mine were broken.  So, we decided to flash into Wally World.  We were running a little short on time (seems to be our life lately) so I picked out a Timex as they are always dependable and got back on the road.  I took my patriotic knife out so Flo could get my watch out of the package and when she goes to set it hear, “oh no.”  I glance at her and she is holding the stem that sets the watch.  I couldn’t believe it.  With no time to turn around I told Flo to put it back in and pray.  She did and the watch started moving – boy was I happy – I don’t do good without a watch.

When we got to Gustine I was told I would be riding on the Gustine Alumni float and would be awarding quilts at the Judges Stand.  We hid the quilts in the teepee on the float (Gustine High Redskins).  As I climbed on to the float I was seated with the two veterans I was going to award quilts.  The first was Frank, a WWII Purple Heart, POW Army veteran.  Frank use to run the newspaper, was a teacher at the high school, and Mayor.  He called my dad his best friend.  The second veteran was a Vietnam Navy man of 31 years.  Both knew me and all three of us were so proud to be on that float.  It was as if we were important sitting up there, waving, seeing old friends.  When we got to the Judges Stand, they gave each of our history then I got to award Frank his quilt – what an honor.  He later said he was overwhelmed and never expected anything that special.  Then I turned and got Mike’s quilt.  He grabbed me and hugged me and said he felt so honored.  The entire parade route were looking and clapping.  It was a day I won’t forget in my hometown – riding on the float and awarding to veterans from my own hometown who are both heroes.  Did I say it was also 100 plus degrees?  It didn’t matter – we all enjoyed a very special day.

My schedule has been a little crazy as Dad has had therapy twice a week and we remodeled the kitchen and bathroom for them.  Dad continues to improve and we thank you all for your continued prayers.

August began with us awarding quilts at the American Legion Post 102.  All three veterans were told stories to get them to the meeting so we could honor them.  Garry, USMC veteran of Vietnam is still showing his quilt to everyone that comes to his house.  The second quilt went to Donna, an Air Force Iraq veteran with 17 years of service and is now helping veterans with their claims to VA.  She was so shook she could hardly talk the rest of the night.  The third quilt went to Dick, a Coast Guard veteran who is now a Chaplin for the Fire Department.  When he hears of a veteran passing, he goes to the scene and places a flag over them.

Serving in the military changes your life one way or another and often, years later, you give back to your brothers and sisters in so many different ways.  We see that in Quilts of Honor, so many veterans giving back.  I also see moms, aunts, wives, dads, uncles, sisters, and brothers all giving back through Quilts of Honor by helping us with our mission.

We are on schedule for Mt. Vernon and Pilot Freight has stepped up to ship our quilts.  We can still use quilts not only for Mt. Vernon, but local.  We ship weekly to other states.

I will close for now but soon I’ll be back to tell you about our car show event.

God bless you all,
Gail

GUSTINE 4th of JULY

AMERICAN LEGION POST 102

DAD BELMONT AT AMERICAN LEGION MEETING

DadBelmont

Dad Belmont

June 2014 Comes to an End

As June 2014 came to an end, Valley Springs had their annual Fireworks over New Hogan.  It always starts a celebration for the 4th of July.  There are backyard parties, great food, and friendship.  Families and friends come to the hills to celebrate.

This year we attended a gathering at Willene and Cliff’s who both volunteer for Quilts of Honor.  Willene comes into headquarters faithfully and ships quilts weekly.  Their son has had tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait over 15 years of service in the US Army.  So, when we found out he was coming home for the 4th, we wanted to award him with a special quilt.  Flo went to work making the top and on June 28th we presented Dave with his quilt in front of family and friends.  When Willene asked him to come up front, he thought he was going to help his Mom and then we stepped forward.  You could see he didn’t like all the attention.  I quickly grabbed his hand and thanked him for his sacrifices and service.  He just thought it was a pillow I think and I told him to pull the quilt out.  Out comes the quilt and the “crowd went wild”.  You could see he was fighting back tears.  He asked who had made the quilt and I told him, Flo and myself.  He gave us big hugs, read all the label and loved the Army material especially the Eagle.  He kept saying he was going to show it to all of his buddies.

Not only did that make a great evening but also this month I surprised a Vietnam veteran at his retirement party.  He had three tours in Vietnam with the US Navy and he did cry.  Most people in the room didn’t even know he had been in Vietnam.  We touch so many lives in honoring those who defend our freedom.

We also gave a Quilt of Honor to the family of a fallen Police Officer who put his life on the line everyday and paid the ultimate price.  Quilts of Honor East presented a Quilt of Honor to Navy veteran, Yogi Berra which was exciting for all.  So, from East to West we try to cover one at a time.

We have been receiving many pieced tops from so many different quilters.  God bless each one of you who are helping us to continue our mission.

Finally, you will also see a photo of the Valley Springs Post 102 Honor Guard who for the last 9 years have raised over a hundred flags with veteran’s names on them – the flags fly for 5 days.  The Field of Flags is such an honor – only thing is I’m not getting any younger and playing to the colors at 5:45 in the morning isn’t as easy as it used to be.

Be safe this Fourth.  God bless you all.

Gail

This is always hard for me – to accept honors and even talk about it.  I will try and tell you how honored I felt by being selected Veteran of the Year by Senator Berryhill.

We started the day picking up Quilts of Honor family at different locations so we could meet in Sacramento, CA – the state Capitol.  It’s always so cool to see our red vests and white blouses and everyone so happy to see each other a be together.  Of course my brother was late but we excused him as he brought my 5 year old great niece.  We met up with Dana, our point of contact with the Senator’s office.  He was so good with us.  He gave us a tour of the Capitol, part inside and part outside, which we all loved.  We must have walked miles.  Some of our favorites was the tree with the lantern looking flowers.  Then we went to the Vietnam Memorial.  If you are ever around Sacramento, please try to see it – it’s very moving.  Dana’s Uncle’s name is on that Wall which he saw for the first time.  We are hoping one day Johnny O. Brooks’ name will be added to the California Vietnam Memorial.

Then we went to meet Senator Berryhill but of course we had to go through security numerous times and yes, my knee rang the bell.  We finally got to go into the Senate Chambers where Senator Berryhill was waiting for us.  There was also a professional photographer and his publicist.  He shook all our hands than presented me with the biggest framed resolution #677 – so fancy.  We were all looking around in awe when the QOH family said look up – there was my name on the marquee, wow.  It was pretty impressive and we all took pictures.

I can never thank Senator Berryhill enough for such an honor.  He is one down-to-earth guy and country like me.  I left my QOH family and had lunch with the Senator and 65 other selected veterans throughout California.  Senator Berryhill and one other Senator were the only ones in California to select a Veteran – the rest of the veterans were selected by Assemblymen so it says a lot about the character of Senator Berryhill, a true American.  He understands what our troops and veterans sacrifice.

When lunch was finished we left the Convention Center to meet up with the QOH family waiting for me.  As we crossed the street, they all clapped and yelled congratulations.  That was a blessed moment even if they were trying to embarrass me.  It shows they truly care which means so much.

Some of our group had other commitments but the rest were lucky enough to go to Flo’s house to celebrate with ice cream sundaes – Flo had every topping you could think of.  We made deluxe sundaes and loved every spoonful.

It was a great day – Quilts of Honor went to the Capitol of California.  Since then we have been in quite a few papers which I hope will bring us donations.

Thank you all for this honor.  Without all of you, this would not have happened.  God bless all who continue our Mission.  Keep quilting.

Gail

Happy Father’s Day

This Father’s Day will be a very special Father’s Day for the Belmont family.  Dad Belmont is home with us and recovering after his stroke on Memorial weekend.  I would like to dedicate this to Dad.

Dad has always been an inspiration to our family.  There is just something about growing up with a Dad who was Chief of Police in a town you grew up in.  Of course you knew you had better not get in trouble because Dad was going to be the first to make you tow the line.  He was also a Marine and it is true what they say – “Once a Marine, always a Marine”.  We knew right from wrong at a very early age with having a Marine and a Cop for a Dad.  He showed us what love was all about by loving us and loving Mom.  You can always see when they are together their love for each other.  He taught us to respect everyone and to always give back – I think I figured that one out.  If I ever needed his help, he was always there so strong and always figuring out how we could fix things.

When Mom and Dad finally retired and Dad bought Mom the quilting machine, all three of our lives changed.  Since 1997 we have worked as a family quilting.  Every morning we have our coffee together and solve the world’s problems.  I don’t think anybody realizes the time we have spent together and how lucky I know I have been to have them both.

In 2005 we started our quilts for warriors and 5 years ago this month we make a historical trip across country with over 1,200 quilts – we still talk about it.  Then in 2010 we started Quilts of Honor and Dad has always been there.  He fixes the Longarm, he cooks our meals, and he teases the quilters, and, he loves the quilts.  He always loves seeing the quilts and some he doesn’t want us to give away because he says they’re so special and that people don’t realize all the work that goes into them.

When we got him home today he said he wanted to go to the shop.  So, walker and all, he went to see our Wednesday crew that had grown to 5 volunteers.  Thank you Delphia, Flo, Jackie and Rick for welcoming him home and, of course, Zander (quilt shop dog).

Dad, I love you.  I’m proud to be your daughter.  Your strength is what makes our family one.  I’m proud of you for fighting to come back.  Tonight we had dinner – the 5 of us together and we thanked God for our Dad and family.  We have a special Dad and a special Quilt of Honor family.  Each one of us gave thanks for the blessing from all of you, your prayers, cards, and calls mean so much – thank you.

Life is precious and it can change in the blink of an eye.  Ours will be different than we were used to but we will overcome because we have our love and each other and God to guide us.  May all our Fathers out there have a great Father’s Day.

To my brother – may you have a great Father’s Day.  You are a great Dad much like ours and I know how much your girls love you.

Don’t miss our Workshop on June 18th.  We moved it up a week so hope to see everyone then.

God bless
Gail

First, I would like to say how proud I am of our groups in Texas, Wisconsin and Quilts of Honor East.  All three groups are working very hard to support our veterans with quilts and getting their stories and photos in the papers and on TV.

As far as Valley Springs, we have had a very trying week.  Friday night a truck delivering Dad Belmont’s new walk-in tub, yanked all the electrical from the house and shop doing quite a bit of damage – never a dull moment at the Belmont’s.

Dad is getting stronger everyday.  They had to put an alarm on his bed and wheelchair so they would know where he is when he decides to go visiting.  He still has his sense of humor.  He will have a long journey but the cards, calls, and grandkids keep him fighting.  We hope to bring him home soon.

I actually quilted once or twice this week.  Thank you all for holding Quilts of Honor together and keeping the Belmont’s in your thoughts and prayers.

God bless America and our QOH Family,
Gail

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