Did you ever have that day when you thought, that was some day, and you were so glad you went the extra mile to make it happen? That’s what Saturday was like.

Flo, Rue and I started our day driving to Exeter, CA. Never even knew about this little town about 3 ½ hours’ drive from Valley Springs. We saw tons of fruit trees all blooming and citrus trees with fruit still on them. We arrived at the same time as one of our recipients. As we opened the door to the Hall, we saw we would have to climb up about 75 stairs straight up. That thrilled all us ladies. We were told that the building had been in the Masonic Lodge for 89 years. They had just redone much of it but hadn’t gotten the chair elevator working. So, up we went complaining all the way. It was very beautiful – big columns and murals on the walls. They told us the town of Exeter had over 200 Murals on walls in town.

We met Jeanette and Warren Croft – they were the connection to the Lodge. Jeanette volunteers once a week in the shop answering phones for QOH. We all sat down at the same table and Karen, our women veteran, asked what everyone was doing here. Her daughter had told her she was taking her to lunch. I coolly told her I didn’t know and that I was told to come, also just part of the lie. We talked about our service but I never said anything about Quilts of Honor. We had a potluck lunch made by a Filipino lady who was honoring our other quilt recipient who we were also surprising.

After lunch we went into the Temple area and Dale, our Master of Ceremonies, told Karen (Vietnam veteran) and myself to sit up on the thrones. Karen is like, oh no, I came here for lunch and now your making me sit up here. She asked me again what was going on. I told her that they asked us two women veterans up to honor us or something like that. She said, “I don’t like this. I don’t like being in front of people.” About that time Dale said, “Gail, the floor is all yours.” Gotta say, it was pretty cool up on the throne.

I started by telling who I was and before I gave some background, I needed to calm my fellow veteran down as she was getting anxious. (I forgot to tell you, as we sat down at lunch Karen told us her mother had passed away Friday night so she was still in shock.) I immediately had her stand and presented the quilt. She was definitely in shock. I told her not to be upset with her daughter as she was so good in surprising her and getting her there. Later she said that between her Mom passing and receiving the quilt, she was overwhelmed but thankful for her quilt. She had been through a ton in Vietnam and is a disabled veteran now but has never had an honor like this. As she stood up, she told how most people don’t believe her when she says she was in Vietnam. I have to say we found Karen because Linda, one of our QOH volunteers from the Sacramento area saw a new clip about her and she wanted Karen to get a quilt. Linda did all the background work to find her and get the daughter to surprise her. We told Karen that Linda made the quilt and she went the extra mile to find her. Karen was thankful and I know she will treasure her quilt.

Then I told everyone a little about Quilt of Honor and that we were there to honor another Army WWII veteran and POW, Ben. Holy cow, this guy is 90 plus years old and his story is truly amazing. He lied when he entered the service at 15 years of age, was captured and a POW for 5 years. When he came out he was 57 lbs. then he went back into the Army. All his family was present to surprise him because they knew he was to be honored. We had the presentation late as Ben has his wife in a home and everyday he goes to see her and doesn’t leave until she doesn’t know him. What dedication and truly an honor to shake this veteran’s hand. He also speaks 5 languages and spoke to his Filipino friends and family thanking them. His son had come from Las Vegas and got up and spoke of how proud he was of his did. His dad said no better accolades than those your children can give you. Ben also asked all veterans to stand – there were quite a few in that room and I bet we aren’t done with quilts for this group.

Then came another good surprise. Dale, our Master of Ceremonies, was an Army Korean veteran. We had brought an extra quilt so I called Dale up and he was truly surprised. He said he didn’t know anything about it. I told him we were pretty cool in how we find things out. His wife and daughter were present and got to be a part of his honor.

Then came my turn – I was to get a surprise. Years ago I met Dale and he had played taps years before and he had told me his story and that he still had his horn. I remember telling him that I bet it was worth something since it was pretty old and that I would like to see it someday. Dale had asked his family if he could give me his horn and his daughter was like, yeah! She told me he used to play wakeup call when they were kids. His wife said she was so glad it was going to someone who appreciates it. I will always remember the Armstrong family for such a beautiful gift. I started polishing it as soon as I got home and played it. Such a beautiful gift.

So, why did we make it to Exeter? Originally it was to surprise me with the horn but Quilts of Honor got to honor three very deserving veterans, all heroes in my eyes. The Masonic Brotherhood also was great to see – they were there for each other and enjoying their brothers receiving honors, big hugs, and handshakes.

I want to thank Jeanette, Warren, and Dale for the big surprise and setting this all up and Linda for going the extra mile to find Karen. It was a day to remember for all. The experiences we have with Quilts of Honor are truly one of a kind, just like the quilts and each time they are God’s blessings.

Until our next trip
God bless


Costa Mesa With Quilts of Honor

Well, guess I stayed home too long without a trip so my brother had told me about an Army veteran who did charity work and a lot of it is for veterans. Russ wanted us to award him a quilt and of course I said yes. Russ then tells me he lives 400 miles away near Los Angeles – not my favorite place, too many people and tons of traffic – but, for a veteran who deserves a quilt, we will go.

I started the day leaving Flo in charge of my dog Rue, and the shop. She was having 5 volunteers so I knew she would be busy. I drove to Russ’s, 2 hours, walked in the door, kissed my 2 nieces hello and goodbye, got back in the car with Russ, drove to Oakland airport, ate lunch, got on Jet Blue and flew to Long Beach, got off the plane and rented a car. First thing we see is the ocean and we both said we got go there but first we had to check into our motel. We get to the motel, walk up to the counter and the clerk says can I help you. I tell her Belmont, she looks up to see my shirt and said I love your shirt. I told her we make quilts for veterans and the clerk starts crying. Russ looks at me like what did you say. She then proceeds to tell us her son, Kia, was killed in action in Afghanistan. We told her how sorry we were and I asked her name. By the time we left the desk we had an upgraded room, free parking and candy on our beds. We then jump in the car and head for a Board meeting where we were to present the quilt.

We had 40 minutes before our meeting by this time and our route wasn’t going to take us to the ocean so we detoured, made a U-turn into the parking lot, jumped out of the car, stood on top of a bench so we could see the beach and ocean, took a selfie, jumped back in the car so we could be on time. We got there right at 5:00 – we both said, not bad.

Russ started his meeting and I sat across the room with guess who, the recipient who wasn’t happy he had to come to the meeting. At first we didn’t say much. He had his phone and I had mine. Then, I laid my phone down and he saw Army SSG. He asked whose it was. I told him it was mine and that I had been in the Army and we were off and running. He would tell me a story and I would tell him a story. I basically told him all about what I do but he didn’t get that he was going to get a quilt.

Russ then asked Don and myself to join the meeting. Russ gave me the floor and I explained what we did and why we were there and asked Don to come forward. He looked straight at me then he told everyone, “she was over there just talking about stuff and now this is happening to me.” He grabbed a hold of me and hugged me. I had him hold out his quilt and he just loved it. He said, “I have a new best friend” and everyone laughed. He also asked how do you say I’m over 100% happy.

So, that was a pretty cool ceremony. We went to dinner at Woody’s – pretty cool place – old cars and good food. It was quite an evening. We drove back to the motel and our clerk was still working. We walked up to her, showed her Don’s picture and talked about her son and yes she cried again but she came from behind the counter and gave Russ and me a hug. So today went as usual and we touched so many hearts. Russ said you never know what will happen when you’re with Quilts of Honor and who you will touch.

We’re flying home early this morning and back to quilting. God bless you all and stay tuned.



January Workshop 2018

Boy, what happened to January? It’s almost over.

We all are trying to get back in the rhythm of Quilts Quilts Quilts but it sure doesn’t take us long as the phone keeps ringing and our website requests keep coming in.

We went to Queen B’s Quilts of Honor in Antioch on the first Thursday of the month and thanked the ladies for all they do. We surprised them as they didn’t know we were coming. They told us how they enjoyed our blogs and I told them to lookout, they might end up in the blog. We took Cyndy, our videographer so they just might see their faces in the future.

We are already booked in May for Fredericksburg, VA and Washington DC. We will need 100 quilts for those two events so we just keep on quilting.

We had a great Workshop Wednesday. Just look at those ladies working to put binding on the quilts. We had some new ladies attend and some of our ladies came back after being sick. It was great to see everyone.

You know if you’ve ever been to our Quilts of Honor Headquarters, they all joke Gail will give you a 5cent tour so I was giving my 5cent tour when one of the new ladies from the Sonora area said she was an Air Force Veteran. I asked her questions about when she did and when she replied that she was the first female electronics tech, I knew right then that she had endured stuff. I decided right then that I would surprise her with a quilt at lunch. She hadn’t even told anyone that she was a veteran, not even Lynne who went to church with her. So, before we ate lunch I called Carol, a Navy Veteran ans Betsy, an Army Veteran, up front of the group and explained what they had done and then asked Sue to join us as she is a veteran. When she walked up I presented her with a Quilt. Just look at that smile. Then she said to the girls that they were going to make her cry. It was so cool we could honor her and I was proud because I knew she had never been thanked. Women veterans are often forgotten and that’s why many don’t even tell you they served. God always finds a way to bring them to us.

The next day the Schwann man comes to deliver our ice cream, the best you know, and they had a new trainee. He walked in and said, “Did you send a quilt to PTSD rehab? I know I have one of your quilts. Thank you so much.” He received it in Colorado. You just never know who will come through the door.

So, it has been a pretty blessed month and looks like 2018 will be a good year.

God bless and keep quilting,

PS: I would also like to say a special thank you to the Mildred Luck Lewis Foundation known to us as ‘Millie, our angel from above’.

December Giving

I have said so often that we are like Christmas all year because what we give is so meaningful. From November 17th, the night we awarded to the NAMPOWS (prisoners of war from Vietnam), it seems each time we go to do something involving Quilts of Honor, we receive another blessing.

This past week we went to Dignity Alcove, a rehabilitation center for homeless veterans. This is our second year to award quilts there. Native Daughters of the Golden West have been helping the guys at Christmas. They decorate a tree, set up bingo, and cater a special lunch to bring a little of Christmas to them. Roberta Taylor, a Gold Star mom, had asked me to help so I told her if the guys complete the program, we would award them a quilt. The program is approved by the VA and each week they inspect the facility. There are 40 beds and the veterans can stay up to 2 years.

We went to lunch first and as we were eating our lunch I struck up a conversation with a Marine who had been homeless for 4 years. As we talked, the tears rolled down his face and I thought to myself how hard it was for him to ask for help. As we got ready to move I said, “Remember you’re a Marine; you can do anything.” He said “yes I can.” I felt good talking to him but it also made me realize that there are veterans everywhere who need our help in so many ways. We then went to award our quilts. The first one, Ralph, you can see his smile tells it all. Then came Julian who they had to go find but he was thrilled once he saw what he received. It was a good day and we felt like we are making a difference in their lives by showing them someone does care.

So, do we reach our veterans? I would say we do a pretty good job of finding those in need from homeless veterans to prisoners of war.

On Sunday Flo and I were asked to come to Delta A’s Car Club. They wanted me to speak about our trip to New Orleans and the NAMPOWS. The last 2 years we have given quilts to veterans in the club. They drive these cool Model-A cars and dress in the era. They have a Christmas brunch and it includes prime rib for breakfast – I just love it. This time Cyndy, our videographer, helped me and we showed the short video of what she had made from our trip. Everyone seemed to enjoy the presentation. They all chipped in donations then they voted Flo and I into the Delta A’s as members. We laughed and said we didn’t even have a car. They replied that it wasn’t a problem. So what a week already. We headed home, I walk in the door telling mom all about what happened at Delta A’s and she said, “OMG, now you’re going to buy one of those cars, I just know it.” Don’t you just love what your moms can come out with?

It has been a great year for Quilts of Honor. We never really know what a day may bring but it thrills our hearts to see how many we make happy with our Quilts.

May you all be blessed this holiday season with happy memories and loving friends and family. I know I am blessed to have each of you in my life. Thank you for being part of our Quilts of Honor Family.

God bless you and your family and Merry Christmas,

Most of you out there were not aware that for the last year, we have been planning to honor the prisoners of war who were held captive at the Vietnam Hanoi Hilton and the Son Tay Raiders, a special Army Ranger group who tried to rescue the prisoners. It would be a surprise at their Reunion. When I was approached about doing this, my first question is always how many veterans – that wasn’t what I said. My first words were, “We would be honored.” I did explain to them that I would have to have all of their names as each quilt would be made for them. My contact, Joe Milligan, was perfect. He fed me the names and bios and then the work began.

When the bios started coming in, we would read them all and just be in ah at the time each one had spent in captivity. Every time I would tell someone what we were doing they would say that it gave them chills.

Every quilt to me needed to be our best work and I basically pushed all of our volunteers to do their best even though they do good all the time. I felt that they needed that extra special quilt. Often my heart hurt thinking about what they had been through. Our QOH group went out of the box and the quilts were truly one of a kind beautiful. We shipped the quilts two weeks in advance to be sure that they got to New Orleans.

The afternoon of the event we arrived early so we could get the quilts into the banquet room without anyone noticing. Cyndy, who came along to record the event on video, got her equipment set up. We had brought a change of clothes so we could blend in at dinner. One hour before the event the lobby started filling with handsome gray haired men, most in suit jackets and women in beautiful gowns. We had a little room right off the ballroom that we could sit down and relax and wait. The problem was, most of us were nervous. We had been warned that these men were different, very private and they liked just getting together, no outsiders, so we were like, oh no, this could go belly up.

When it was time for dinner, we sat in the back of the room all together as to not bring notice. We had southern food for dinner – glazed pork chop, sweet potatoes and greens and for desert a choice of bread pudding or pecan pie. Dinner went smoothly and one by one the crew slipped out to change. Then came Bob to bring me up to the front.

They had already warned me that there wasn’t a program so don’t speak or they would get bored and possibly leave the room. All of a sudden a calm came over me and I knew it would be alright. I began my little talk and luckily they stayed with me especially when I said you all out rank me in this room but I am going to play Sergeant tonight and they laughed. Carl went to the podium to call out the names, 5 POWs at a time in alpha order. When the first 5 came up they just seemed so happy. I had them unfold altogether and show the crowd. The room filled with gasps – “OMG look at those quilts,” and we were off and running. There were over 200 people in the room and so many were standing trying to see and yelling ‘look at that’. All had their phones out taking pictures. I darn near got trampled by some of the wives.

We had the quilts stacked in alpha order with the assembly line handing them to my brother Lou who would call out the name again and I would shake their hand as I went down the line. So many looked me straight in the eye, thanked me and I would reply that it is OUR honor. I’m thinking to myself, these men are heroes and I’m lucky enough to be in the same room let alone be hugged and kissed by them. It was so worth coming here and to be able to see these men, some frail, some strong, but the spirit they had was unbelievable. When we had given to the last veteran, Flo went out and got a quilt for Maryann, Joe’s wife, who had been an Air Force nurse in Vietnam – she had the strongest handshake.

The whole room was so crazy with noise. The crew gathered in front of the podium as the whole room clapped and yelled then they all started coming up in line hugging each one of us, shaking our hands, and thanking us. Some of the crew left the room they got so emotional. The whole time we were awarding quilts I didn’t see tears but when they walked away, the tears began. One lady said we made a 4 Star General cry like a baby.

When we got in the car I asked all 8 of be quiet until we got on the freeway. This crew can be one loud bunch. As soon as the car got on the freeway ramp, I said, “Ok guys, hit it, you can talk.” They all started at once telling me what they had heard, what people said to them. We shared so many stories and Cyndy, our photographer, was blown away. She said, “Gail, I’ve done many groups but the emotion was unbelievable. I had no idea. Thank you for asking me.” When we got back to the house, we all sat around the table and I asked them to please write down three things someone said to them or of something they experienced.

Carl wrote: ‘I can’t believe that you have done all of this for us.’ ‘What did we do to receive this gift?’ From a wife to Carl – ‘we have been to several of these POW reunions and this is the most wonderful thing that has been done for my husband and his comrades. The quilts are just beautiful and so meaningful. Thank you, thank you.’

Debbie wrote: ‘You came all the way from California to do this?’ ‘How did you find the cases? They are perfect.’ ‘This is the best thing that ever happened to me.’ Red vest lady – ‘this means the world to my husband.’

Flo wrote: ‘I can’t believe all the work you did.’ ‘This is the most wonderful gift I have ever received and I have received a lot but this is the most wonderful.’ Flo also wrote ‘we got hug after hug from the POWs and their wives. I heard OH’s and Ahs as each quilt came out. The crowd was so very enthusiastic; I’ve never seen a presentation become so excited.

Lou wrote: ‘No one has ever done anything like this for us. Thank you.’ ‘All these quilts are different and so beautiful. Thank you.’ The quilts are so beautiful and one of a kind; you can feel the love in each one.’ I know how much work goes into quilts and they are beautiful.’ ‘Can’t believe you did this.’

Toni wrote: ‘I will cherish this forever.’ ‘I can leave this for my children and grandchildren; it’s like an heirloom and his wife replied, treasured heirloom.’

Rita wrote: ‘You ladies are so amazing for what you did for our group. It is an honor to meet all of you and be able to thank you for your work.’ Rita said, imagine they were honored to meet us and it was us honored to meet them.

Wish I could tell you how much this means to me. I can’t thank you enough, tears rolling down his face and I got a big hug. Then a wife came running up to me and said those are amazing quilts, thank you but I gotta get back so I don’t miss any. I just want to see them all.

Among the POWs there was a Calaveras born local boy who graduated from Calaveras High. When he came up to me he said he couldn’t believe you all are from Valley Springs. We took pictures with him and I asked if we could send it to our local news. He said sure, you will put me on the map.

This was an experience of a lifetime for all who got to be a part of it. I hope through the pictures and video you will all feel a part of it. We could not have completed what we did without each one of you. To the long hours everyone put in, you all be proud – Quilts of Honor done good!

Miss Betty, they went nuts over the cases and kept asking how we did it. One guy even said he would have just loved the case and then we gave him a quilt that is over the top.

I know we will never forget the feeling in the room that night. One POW said he could feel the love in the quilt and could feel the love in the room.

I can’t thank the crew or our Quilts of Honor family enough for all your work you continued to do. You make me proud and I am blessed to be able to lead you. The crew will be glad to get home but I know they feel blessed to have been a part of such an honored event.

Stay tuned as we continue to heal one at a time. God bless,



Event Day

We decided to take it slow today and spent the morning enjoying the house and the view of the river. We all took our turns watching the birds. I happened out on the deck by myself and I heard what sounded like a water spout. When I looked out, there was a dolphin. I got so excited and yelled at everyone. Soon all of us were watching the water. Debbie, Flo and I went down onto the dock but Flo had to climb to the top of the ladder they use for big boats.

Then we decided to go for a ride. We had seen signs for Savage Bayou Wildlife Refuse so Carl, Debbie, Flo, Rita and myself all jumped in the car. Since we have been here, we stop often and talk to locals and we always find out good stuff. It was a nice little walk but not what we expected either. Rita and Debbie got me on a gravel frontage road – remember I’m driving the BIG NCIS car – and the road dead ends so I gotta made a u-turn with marsh on one side and lake on the other. Of course I did it – I used to drive a 5 ton wrecker in the Army but that was 40 years ago.

We dropped Carl off at the house – think he had enough of our side trips. We went across the bridge and stopped at a place called Crazy Bar. We all had to make a restroom stop – wait till you see the pictures of the bathroom. I almost died laughing. You stepped up to a cement platform the toilet was on and the door was a shower curtain. The painted pictures on the wall were a riot. What an experience! We started talking to the only 2 people in the bar and found out all kinds of things, so next time, we will be in the know.

We are now sitting in a room basically hiding from the NAMPOWS. We will go in for dinner, sit at a table together and change right after dinner.

All I can say about tonight is we are so blessed to be able to do this. You will see a few pictures but they are just a few to let you see a little of what we experienced. It was almost like pandemonium after the first 5 quilts came out. We all said we have never experienced anything like it – they were so appreciative of what we do. Cyndy took an awesome video of how the guys felt. She will be working it so we can all see some of it. Debbie was taking still shots and got some good pictures also. It took 8 of us to do or job – I am so proud of our QOH crew. They were absolutely on the money with getting the quilts in order so we could present. We actually did over 85 quilts in 40 minutes. I got more kisses and hugs more than ever. The crew is still amazed at what a night we had.

So, for tonight, God Bless you all. To all of our quilters and piecers back home, thank you for all you did to make this mission complete.

We will post more soon,


Day 4 – Day Tour

We woke up a little slower today. I looked out at the water – it was so calm and no winds. I got my coffee and soon I was out on the dock chasing an egret and a pelican trying to take a picture. I finally got one of the egrets, he was small but I got to get so close, I was so excited.

We were scheduled to be in town by 10:00 am to sort out Quilts and get ready for tomorrow (Friday). The staff at the Renaissance have been fantastic. They kept our quilts safe until we arrived and were able to unload them. The crew got right in and double checked names and pulled the quilts for the recipients who were not able to attend. In the end, we had a total of 84 quilts and we had brought extra just in case. So, we will need to ship home about 20 quilts and some extra stuff. We were all discussing if we should try and drag them in duffels or ship and how can we ship, and where is FedEx. I decided to go to the desk and ask where the nearest FedEx was. I was talking to the desk clerk when this young man walks up, looks at me and my shirt, and says, “I’m a veteran and all you do I’ll take are of this.” I asked what service and he replied Army Iraq veteran. I told him to come with me and so he could see what we had. We headed for the room that they had set up for us. As I walked in I announced to the crew that I had an Iraq veteran and they knew I was going to give him a quilt. We quickly grabbed a quilt and presented. His name was Bryan and as we talked to him he told us he had deployed three times to Iraq. We all said wow. Bryan couldn’t believe what he saw with all the quilts. He said he would take care of shipping and boxing them up and we were all thrilled – that took a load off getting them shipped home.

While we were working, the Renaissance had coffee and beignets made fresh so the crew brought some for all of us to eat while we worked. They were the best we had. It took us a while but we were organized soon and headed to the French Market in the French Quarter.

Now that was an interesting place but very clean down there and some interesting arts and crafts. Then we were off to find pralines since they make them here and of course we had one of each. Then we went to lunch at Monty’s Southern New Orleans Food – we all enjoyed it. Definitely different food but everything is fried – bet you could get clogged arteries living around here. The group then split up – some went to Harrah’s and we got on our favorite trolley car and went to the Garden District to see the mansions. They have broken brick sidewalks from big oak trees. The trees are beautiful. We saw Sandra Bullock’s house and John Goodman’s house. We jumped back on our trolley to head back to see the Christmas tree lighting in Jackson Square. We were riding the trolley back when all of a sudden it stopped and they told us to get out of the car and go to the next car – that was a lot of fun – it could only happen to us. We finally figured out that the trolley system and we’re about to go home.

We got to see the Christmas tree lighting New Orleans style. It was nice with music playing – can’t believe Christmas is almost here.

While riding the trolley, we did see two of our quilt recipients on the trolley – we could tell from their lanyards. If only they knew we would be honoring them the next night.

We finally got home, late again, and now are having a Board meeting. Will try to blog some tomorrow but it may be short. We will tell a little of how it went.

God bless and stay tuned . . . . . . . .