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So often we are asked, can you award a quilt for so many different reasons.  We have qualifications and we have done that because we just can’t keep up with the demand.  When we started Quilts of Honor it was always important that we reach our Wounded with PTSD as it is silent in so many.  If our quilts can bring them peace and healing and we are reaching them especially during COVID, we have done good.

The telephone rings one night and it is a LTC (Colonel) from the California National Guard.  She tells me that she had received a Quilt of Valor years ago and it meant a lot to her.  Then she said that she was working with the LA Coroner’s Office and troops have been deployed there and are in charge of carrying the bodies that have passed from COVID.  It has been overwhelming in the L.A. area of California and these troops are regular civilians and this isn’t anything they would be use to or trained for.  She said she had 22 guardsman and needed another 25.  I said, “Ma’am, you came to the right place.  I totally understand.  I am a bugler from the Vietnam era and there are many things I’ve never forgotten after 50 years.  I applaud you for thinking about your troops.”  So with the help of many, we got 22 quilts ready and 1LT Han was sent to pick up the quilts.  We gave 1LT Han our 5-cent tour all the while he was videoing us.  I even demonstrated how to award the quilt.  Right before the Lieutenant left we awarded him his quilt.  He was so thankful.  He explained to us how the Guard is now having to go out for fires, riots, and now bodies, so there are many kinds of Hero’s and I am so thankful we got to make them feel better

Here are a few of the LTC words after the troops received their quilts:  Absolutely incredible; we seriously cried; they are beautiful; the stitching is amazing; we can’t begin to thank you; it is an amazing morale booster.  Some of our troops have problems with the hotel’s having white sheets because the hospitals wrap the deceased in white sheets.  Now they have a quilt to put on the white bedcover.  It’s incredible and we are gob smacked amazing; humbling.  Thank you, LTC Farnham

Ladies and Gents, this is why we do it.  Be proud you all had a hand in helping these troops.  LTC has asked for an additional 30 quilts which we will provide in the next couple of weeks.

So, it’s been a busy, exciting January 2021.  We also are thankful to have gotten our first COVID shot.  Hard to believe we get excited about shots but lord we hope this gets our lives back to somewhat normal.

God’s blessings
Gail

QOH Inspiration

Have you ever wondered about the background of some of our volunteers?  Today I will tell you about a volunteer from our San Antonio Texas Chapter.

Bonnie is 91 years young.  I had the honor of meeting Bonnie 5 years ago and she was producing about 20 quilt tops a week.  I remember Debbie, the Chapter Leader, saying she couldn’t keep up with Bonnie.  Bonnie, through the years, has had a couple of falls, broke a wrist and hip, had a pacemaker put in, is blind in one eye, and has limited vision in the other.  Do you think all this has stopped Bonnie?  No way!  She still does 2-3 tops a week.  What an inspiration and dedication to Quilts of Honor and what a gift to have Bonnie as one of our volunteers.

It sometimes amazes me the dedication our volunteers have and it makes me so proud.

Hope you enjoyed this story.  If you know a volunteer you would like to tell us about, drop us an email.

THANK YOU MISS BONNIE!

God’s Blessings
Gail

We ended our year on a good note with much help on December 30th with volunteers coming to the Shop to work and volunteers turning in their tops.  You will find pretty quilt tops that were turned in during our last week.  We had a good group, Ginny, Carol, Lynne, Sue and Flo.  Ginny surprised us with a “crum a cockas” – go ahead and try to say it.  They are Swedish.  I called them cocka doodles cuz I couldn’t remember how to say them but they sure were good.  We all got a kick out of pronouncing them.  We do have a laugh now and then at the shop.

Even though this year was trying for all of us, we concurred with whatever we needed to do.  When the Old Guard at Arlington needed masks Flo, Carol and Cathy stepped up and got 130 masks made and out in a week so that they would arrive before Christmas.  Little things like this is what makes Quilts of Honor special.  We try to do our best no matter what it is.

This year we sent out what we call our Non-Event Fundraiser to many of our donors as COVID has made fundraising near impossible.  I’m blessed to report that we received numerous blessings and it showed how many believe in what we do.

In all this COVID we managed to mail close to 400 Quilts to veterans and make and donate 1,000’s of masks.  I don’t know how all of you feel but QOH has made life good through this COVID.  I am thankful that I could still do what is important – honoring our veterans.

We ended our year on the 31st with a Board meeting via Zoom.  Rita accomplished this fete as we are not the best “techy” people – we are quilters.  The Quilt tops that were turned in this year were really great.  The ladies and gents put in extra work and it shows.  So thankful to have such talented quilters.  Thank you all for making them this year.

As I close I want you all to know that I pray for each one of you to stay healthy and that someday we will meet again.

God’s Blessings and may 2021 be better for all.

Gail

The Gift of Christmas can be seen in so many different ways.  Christmas lights have always been my thing.  I remember as a child we would always go for a ride on Christmas Eve to see the lights then we would come home and Santa had come.  We always had a big Christmas Eve with 4 parents and 7 kids, it was never dull.  Guess it is so often these childhood memories made up what we do today in our lives and how we carry on our traditions.

This year has been a trying one for all of us especially not having our family and friends close.  One thing I have learned is that every moment is special and life is short.  Make the most out of each moment God gives us.

This year has been much like when you are a soldier in a fox hole wondering when will you get out and get out safely and alive.  We have all learned to do things differently to survive.

Quilts of Honor still brings joy to each veteran we have managed to award quilts to this year.  Our Presentations have been smaller and we have mailed over 200 Quilts out of Headquarters.  We are surviving and I always say we bring the joy of Christmas all year by giving.  I’m so proud of the Chapters that have made masks and kept on quilting through all this.  It shows what a heart Quilts of Honor has wherever we reside.

Know that we miss each one of you and we pray for the day we can all quilt together.  Sending blessings to all your families.  May you all stay safe and that 2021 will be better for all of us.

Also, say an extra prayer for the veterans that are having such a hard time in this isolation.  It will mean a lot.

Happy Holidays,
Gail

Thankful is a hard word to use this year and especially with COVID increasing everywhere.  I know many of us will have small celebrations as that is the safest and we will be missing our families that can’t come because of COVID.  My thoughts and prayers go out to those who are without family and those who are fighting this terrible virus.

Thankful, yes, that I have Quilts of Honor and our Quilts of Honor Family and the many Chapters throughout the U.S.

Thankful that, through all of this, we have still found ways to honor our veterans.

Thankful I can think of family and friends and know they are near in my heart even though we can’t be together.

Even in life it is hard at times to find things to be Thankful for.  It may be the smallest of things that makes your heart heal.  May we all look to a better Thanksgiving in times to come.

God’s Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving,
Gail

Veterans Day 2020

Today was another different day for QOH and COVID and we did have a happy day.  I belong to the organization Taps for Veterans.  They help find buglers for live Taps at funerals and different military functions.  Their event this year was to sound taps at 11:00 on the 11th all around the United States.  I asked my veteran brother, Lou, to help me plan and the next thing I knew we had an American Legion 102 Honor Guard and it was advertised in the Valley Springs News.

Since it was Veterans Day, we couldn’t go without awarding some Quilts of Honor.  We surprised all three Navy recipients.  Our first was Dave, our Honor Guard Commander, a Navy pilot.  First thing he said was that he wished his wife was here.  The next two Navy veterans were married to each other, both now retired.  The wife said we could have given one per family and I told her it is one per veteran and she was a veteran and she replied, “Yes Ma’am.”  Made me laugh. 

We were all outside on a sunny and crisp day with our masks and thankful to be together.  Lou had all the veterans come forward and tell a little about themselves.  The hardest part of the day was Flo trying to video Taps but she actually accomplished her mission which you will hear at the end of this blog.

Taps is for all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.  May we never forget the price of freedom.

To all our QOH Chapters out there, please stay well and keep on stitchin. 

Until next time . . . . . . .
God’s Blessings,
Gail

Loss Always Hurts

Today we received the sad news that we lost one of our QOH volunteers from the Antioch CA group, Mary Branscum. She was such a great supporter of QOH. I remember she met us in San Francisco for our first Honor Flight. I remember her smile and how happy she was to be a part of Quilts of Honor. I know Nancy, Susan, and all the gang will miss her. Blessings and prayers to her family. Our hearts weep as we lose those who have become part of the QOH family.

Please stay safe out there as these COVID numbers keep going up – We need all of you! We won’t be having Workshop until maybe Fall. It all depends on this mess. We do welcome visitors at the shop but we ask that you call first. Following California requirements, we encourage you to wear masks. We feel it is an individual choice. We can keep our 6ft social distance. We also ask that you not wear perfume as we have many that have allergies that can cause problems.

We gave out a Quilt this past week to a 10 year Army Veteran from the OIF era. Robert was such a fresh face to the shop. He was thrilled with his quilt and what we do. My sister, Diana, used to work with him. She tricked him to come to the shop and after he got his quilt, he took all kinds of pictures to show his 86 year old grandmother who he is taking care of during COVID. Now that is a good veteran. Joyce, Flo, Carol, Laurie, and Mom and Dad all said what a gift to give to that young man. We all said we felt so good to be a little normal.

To all our Chapters out there – be safe – we need you all. We enjoy seeing your quilts that you present.

God’s Blessings,
Gail

 

Navy Day at Graeagle.

Friday – I always love Fridays during the summer. Flo and I try to take off to Truckee, CA where we have a permanent campsite so when an opportunity came up to present a couple of quilts, I was in.

I know many of our QOH Family has heard me talk about Margaret Peters often. She was my friend and my mentor in quilting. I was close with her husband, Volney Peters, better known as Pete to all. They have both passed and I really miss them. When their daughter contacted me to come and award 2 quilts in their small town I thought Margaret would want me too and reconnecting with Mary and Chris would be great. Chris was a Navy Corpsman and I had given him a quilt years ago.

So, off we went. We stopped at camp first then hit the road for Graeagle down Hwy 89 – such a beautiful ride. I have to say, California has some of the most precious sites. The town of Graeagle is smaller than Valley Springs. One family owns most of the buildings. It is so cute. Mary and Chris live in one of the original homes. It’s a log cabin over 100 years old – way cool. Mary’s craft room was to die for. She is definitely her mother’s daughter.

Their next door neighbor was where we were going to award the quilts. We walked over to meet them and I was in the presence of three Navy guys – think I was outnumbered.

Our first quilt went to a WWII Navy veteran who is 100 years old and still lives alone. His name is Jack Sr. He retired from the Navy as a Captain. The second quilt went to Jack Jr. who also retired from the Navy. When I went up to shake his hand I said, “Jr., it’s your turn,” and Jack Sr. laughed at me calling his son Jr.  Jack Sr. said to make sure he had the address so he could thank you all. He said he wished it was winter so he could use his quilt. It was pretty neat to give to a father and son. Both were so proud of being in the Navy plus being 100 years old and Jack Sr. didn’t even look or act 100. They said after we left he was overwhelmed and he did end up going to the hospital as he got dehydrated – that sure scared us. It was pretty warm and they aren’t used to that up there.

We went back to Mary and Chris’s where we had BBQ steak for dinner – it was delicious. They have two dogs, Jake and Murphy, which kept Rue and us entertained and wanting to be petted. We had a great evening and it was so great to connect with Mary and Chris. I felt like her parents were looking down on us. We will go back soon as they have Eagles there and lots of lakes. I can’t wait.

It was great to out and feel like normal, except for face masks everywhere, but to honor our veterans in person is awesome.

God’s blessing
Gail

Tuesday, because of Covid19, we did an unusual Reunion. We had the Commander (George) of the Legion of Valor Organization and his wife, Susan, come to Valley Springs to oversee the shipment of 23 quilts to their members.

To be a member of this Organization you have to have been awarded the top medal of your Branch of Service. Most of who we gave out quilts to had received the Navy Cross or Distinguished Service Medal – they are all true heroes. We were so sorry not to be able to shake their hands in person but I know when they receive those quilts they will know what they mean.

We truly enjoyed George and Susan.  Here is a little background: George, nice guy, saved his Unit in combat as a First Lt. in the USMC and retired as a Lt. Col.  Susan went in USMC active, and later the reserves then retired as a 2 Star General but the best part was she was the first woman in the FBI Academy in 1972. Now that is pretty darn awesome. Dad Belmont was in second heaven as he had two Marines to talk to and Susan was actually at the FBI Academy the same time as Dad – small world.

We had the best crew helping us. Diana, Joyce and Rene double checked quality control on all the quilts. Jan, Flo and Willene got all the quilts ready, boxed and labeled. We took lots of photos and one photo you will see Rene and Joyce photo bombing. We meant to get a group picture but time got away or it was the old age brain forgetting.

It was a very special day and as I write this I bet somewhere a veteran is opening his box wondering, what is this. I can almost see the smile and tears on his face.

We were lucky enough to present George and Susan their quilts in person. Susan said we were going to make her cry and then “uhs and ohs” as she looked at it. When George received his quilt, he looked at me and said, “This is my honor to receive this beautiful gift.”

I made a “casserole surprise,” you never know what’s in it until you eat it. It keeps them guessing, too. We had homemade pie, too, so what a day. It almost felt like we weren’t in Covid19. Enjoy the pictures.

We have been receiving copies of quilt labels from our QOH Chapters so they are trying to get back to some kind of normal – Nebraska, Missouri and Minnesota all started working. So, slowly we are honoring our veterans.

We are very blessed to be able to continue our Mission in this worldly mess. I pray you all stay healthy and keep on stitching.

This weekend Flo and I will head to the mountains for Retreat where we will present a couple of quilts so stay tuned for that adventure, oh and Rue, too.

God’s blessings
Gail

It has been hard to write the Blog this year. Usually, I am not at a loss for words but this year, 2020, has been a tough year for everyone especially for those families that have lost a loved one.

Marilee was one of our Quilts of Honor volunteers but as I often say a member of our Quilt of Honor Family. We last saw Marilee at Christmas. Little did we know she had a brain tumor and as her husband, Gary said, within three months she was gone. We lost Marilee in March but could not have her Memorial because of COVID. We still had to limit how many people could attend. I know that Church would have been packed. Those who did attend showed the family what Marilee meant to them.

I was asked to speak and I wondered if I would say the right things. I told how Marilee always laughed at me naming the quilt patterns on Workshop day. She would either correct me or tell all the volunteers, “Yup, that’s the name.” She always had my back. When I do speak I often say God gives me the words and strength and I usually never remember what I have said. Rue, my Service Dog, was by me side and she sensed everyone’s mood. When I came back to my chair she stood up on me and gave me a hug. I really think it was Marilee’s hug as she never left QOH without giving me a hug. She also loved Rue.

As we were riding home (Flo and Joyce rode with me) Flo tells me I did a good job speaking. I asked, “Did I say Pee in church” and Flo says yes. I said “OMG, I shouldn’t have said that.” Flo said I only spoke from my heart. So here is what I said: Marilee and Dolores are my DAR Sisters and a few years back I received an award at the BIG Banquet – over 1,500 people all dressed in their best. They took us to this huge room then, bang, they shut all the doors and locked them. I turned to Marilee and asked her how are we supposed to go pee. Marilee started laughing and told me that at the break they unlock the doors. Now, why would I think of that? Everyone laughed. I surely won’t forget but I know Marilee was looking down laughing, too.

I was honored and proud to be a part of her celebration. Her quilt talents were great. Her smile and hugs were huge. She will be missed by many.

Many of our Chapters are starting to open up and award quilts. Wisconsin and Nebraska have both been busy.

We won’t have a Workshop again this month as some are still staying in. My hope is July for our next Workshop.

We miss everyone and are thankful for all the quilt tops we have been receiving. I must say, they are some of you-all’s best work.

Please try and stay well until we meet again.

God’s Blessings to the Heaston family. RIP Marilee

Gail