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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

This is not quite the Memorial weekend I thought we would be having.  Thank you so much everyone for your thoughts and prayers.  Only the man upstairs knows what’s around the corner.  Dad Belmont is a proud Marine and not liking all this fuss.  He is still having TIA’s, as they call it, so more tests today.

Yesterday showed us that Gods love and our QOH Family truly are a family.  Dad had his stroke in the QOH booth doing what he loved – telling stories.  The QOH crew all pulled together and held down the fort as we raced to the hospital.  God guided us every step as we were sent to San Joaquin General in Stockton, CA.  Thankfully it’s a trauma stroke center and he has had 24 hour bedside care and my brother at his side.  My brother Russ and Eagles are as close as you can get to the man upstairs.

Barbara, Debbie, Flo, Lou and Toni took down our booth, loaded the truck in killer heat, then went to In-and-Out Burger and brought us dinner – that was just the best.  Willene and Cliff took care of Zander and the last thing Dad said as I left the hospital was, “make sure Zander gets his carrots and ice cream.”  Andy and Esther met us at the shop to help unload the truck at 9:00 pm and Jan got the message out – this is one truly awesome group.

Before everything went crazy, we did manage to award the Gold Star Family a quilt for 2nd Lt. Emily Perez.  What an honor but what a loss for someone so young.

This weekend is a time of remembrance – hug your family, thank them, tell them what they mean to you – you may not get another chance.

We are still scheduled for Wednesday’s workshop.  We are all part of the QOH family and there for each other, our veterans and troops.  We will keep you updated.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers – please don’t stop.  God bless each of you.  May you have a safe Memorial Day.

Gail

Scars and Stripes Armed Forces Day, May 17 to Flag Day, June 14, Quilts of Honor Exhibit viewable during library hours.

Thirty (30) beautiful patriotic quilts are now on display at the Franklin Public Library in Franklin, WI.  Last Saturday the event was kicked off with 2 guest speakers addressing the issues of veterans with PTSD and the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative:  http://www.mkehomelessvets.org/.  The presenters, both Vietnam veterans, were each presented with a quilt.

Volunteers were challenged to create flag-inspired quilts incorporating four 1/2 yard pieces of coordinating fabrics provided to them. These quilts will be presented to our active duty and veteran defenders of the flag, Flag Day, June 14th.  http://www.mcfls.org/franklin/

Please enjoy viewing these beautiful quilts!

 

Keep On Keeping On

I can’t believe we’re half way through May – don’t even know where April went.  I know we haven’t stopped but for the life of me I can’t remember all we have done.  That will teach me not to write it down or tell it right after we did it.

We did honor a 25 year veteran who works with homeless veterans and he was thrilled with his quilt.  Then we went to the American Legion Post 102 meeting and awarded Carl, Fred, John and Ed quilts – all very deserving combat veterans from WWII, Korea and Vietnam.  It was a great night as Legion family and friends attended to see the quilt ceremony.  Edy had made a very special quilt for quilt recipient Ed who was retired from the Coast Guard and law enforcement.  He has all the effects of Agent Orange and has waited over 4 years for Veterans Affairs to award his case.  Dad Belmont won $102 on a drawing and Barbara won $48 on a raffle, so pretty good night.

This past month, besides being installed into the DAR Turlock (very proud moment), the QOH crew visited the Fabric Garden Quilts of Honor Group in Sacramento and Queen B’s Quilt of Honor Group in Antioch.  We enjoyed meeting everyone and sharing patterns and ideas.

On Saturday night Flo and I attended our first military ball.  When we were invited we were also asked to award quilts.   Flo is QOH Coordinator for Stockton and we both said, cool – a ball.  We talked about ball gowns – that’s another story.  We did wear our Quilts of Honor vests.  It was a great night.  The first quilt went to Mildred, 93 years young, a Navy veteran, and she has given back her whole life to teaching and the community.  Our next recipient, a Vietnam veteran and Honor Guard member, cried when his name was called.  Our Marine veteran dressed in his blues, has run Toys for Tots in San Joaquin Valley for years and shows what giving back is all about.  Our last recipient was a Vietnam veteran long forgotten but now thanked.  So overall, it was a great evening.  The beautiful thing was every time I called the name of a recipient the crowd stood and clapped.  The room was full of so many deserving of quilts.  We ended the night with a picture in our “ball gowns” for all to see.

Now we are getting ready for Memorial weekend.  We will have a booth at “Not Forgotten” on Sunday and I have several events to play Taps plus two quilt ceremonies.

Requests keep coming from all sides.  I know Texas is booming and so is Wisconsin.  Please try not to get overwhelmed – we do the best we can – we are all volunteers!

God bless all who continue this mission!  We do make a difference!

Gail

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