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September 2016

Wow! Where does the time go? Just seems like anymore there isn’t enough time in a day to do it all. Bet you all are thinking the same thing. I can’t keep up with writing it seems, and it isn’t because I don’t have stories. I never run out of those. We have been working hard at finishing our big project for October. We had our issues with Abbey, our Longarm, and got her new motors. We seem to be getting more done now, I hope.

911recipientsWe had two 9/11 Ceremonies this year. Our first one was at Eagle Lakes where they had a mud run. That was pretty interesting but also awesome to see so many not forgetting what this day did to our lives. I played taps for all to honor everyone lost that day. We then honored 5 veterans with Quilts of Honor. All of them had no idea they were receiving a quilt and each were so humble. I gave to one Marine and he said his brother was there, too. He also served in combat so I asked Flo to get the extra quilt, please, and we also presented the brother with a quilt. It was awesome to see them so proud holding their quilts and hugging each other. As I marinebrothersstood there watching I saw a veteran in the crowd with his hat and I knew he hadn’t received a quilt. So, I asked Flo for another quilt and we presented it to this Marine Vietnam veteran. His face said it all. I’m always so proud to be able to give these veterans some type of healing.

It was a long day as we weren’t done yet. We headed back to Valley Springs to participate in the 9/11 Ceremony with my 911newsvsveteran brother Lou and his grandson. Love the photo that was in the paper. We are teaching Jordan what honor is all about. We had a beautiful tribute to first responders and all we lost on 9/11. We ended our night eating ice cream—couldn’t forget that.

This past week, as we prepare to leave for Alabama, my Uncle came to visit my folks. Uncle Elmer is my dad’s baby brother. He was in the Army and was not allowed to talk about his service either so it was my time to honor him with his Quilt of Honor. I know he was stunned as he was speechless and for Uncle Elmer, that’s saying something.

This past Friday night I had another honor. I played the ultimate tribute to my sister-in-MillieLewisWWIIarms, Millie Luck Lewis, WWII Women’s Army Corps Veteran. Millie was an inspiration to so many. She gave with all her being to so many. I was lucky enough to award Millie her Quilt of Honor in 2011 at a ceremony honoring her with her Bronze Star. She never wanted recognition for anything she ever did but she was a hero in so many ways. One of her last contributions was to Quilts of Honor. Millie will always hold a special place in my heart. As I played taps for her in front of her friends and family, I could feel her and see that beautiful smile.

Guess I should have written more during the past months—looks like I gotta book going here but so much to tell.

So this story is one you won’t hear I bet. It’s a one-of-a-kind. So, you know all military members receive dog tags in the military and they become a part of you. Well, I held on to mine all these years. I think I want to get them gold-plated but I was afraid to let them go dogtags2and I especially didn’t want to lose them. Well, I was up in Mendocino, CA and stopped in a shop. The lady was very nice and told me she could do it for me and she wouldn’t lose them and that she had been doing it for 20 years. So I left them in April 2016. About a month later the lady calls me and she is crying and very upset. She tells me they lost my dog tags. Well, I was in shock but all I could say to her was it’s in Gods hands now. Needless to say that was a big loss for me. I just went on with my business and this past week this nice lady calls and says, “Gail, they found your tags.” I was screaming into the phone—I was so happy. I told her not to mail them and that we would pick them up. We met half way and you will see in the picture that both of us are so happy. Those tags went all the way back to Georgia to the mail recovery center and it was her persistence and her friend who found them and got them back. Never lose faith. The story is much longer but, in short, those tags are famous all over northern California and everyone wants to see the tags and me and a happy ending. Best of all, I got them back a week before my 65th birthday and my military band reunion.

carlohioboundHere’s a great picture of Carl at his going away party. We will be waiting for Carl to start his Quilts of Honor group in Ohio. He will be in another state but will remain on our Board and a strong member of the Quilts of Honor family.

I will be at my Military Band Reunion with my 14th Women’s Army Corps Band. We will practice and then put on a full concert for the public in Anniston, Alabama. I am so looking forward to seeing all my sisters the first week in October. So, stay tuned for the Blog as we will be on the road. Debbie, Flo and I will be driving through some of the southern states. (Can you say U-turn?)

October will also bring us two fundraisers – our annual Halloween Bunco on October 22nd and for the first time, a Bocci Tournament in Clayton, CA on October 15th.

I also want to introduce our Quilts of Honor family to a new member of my family. Meet Rue. rueI got her in May 2016. She is my service dog and you will be seeing a lot of her. She has been a blessing to me and she has done so good in our training to become my sidekick. Thank you to my veteran brother, Phil, and his wife Linda for helping to train her when I couldn’t and to Silver Paw Ranch for training us and supporting our veterans. (https://www.facebook.com/SilverPawRanch)

God Bless you all,
Gail
SSG USARMY 69-77

A Busy Week in June

What a special week we have had in more ways than one and it’s not over.

We ended the last week of May preparing over 60 quilts to go out the door for two different ceremonies. That was a job but so thankful for all our volunteers who continue to step up to the plate and come once or twice a week to help out.

This last week we started out with Rita and I meeting Bob at Sacramento County Prison to award a quilt to an 89 year old Army Veteran who was retired military, served in two wars, was retired Sheriff, and was now volunteering to teach County Inmates to weld. We set it up to meet the family at the prison and award the quilt in the lunch room. Only a few knew what we were up to. They had it timed so that when he entered the lunch room we would walk up to him. His face was priceless because we were in Prison – we didn’t get many photos. Other Sheriffs came up to us and thanked us for what we were doing. We got a tour of the welding shop and what they were teaching – what they make is amazing. We got to eat snicker doodle cookies made by the cooks and they were the best. We found out that there are many deserving veterans who work in the prison system – bet we’re going back there.

On Thursday that same week, Andy from the United Way, Flo, and I went to award a quilt to Al Lingo, a WWII veteran who is 102 years of age and swims 60 laps in the pool. We arrived at his residence and were met by his family dressed in patriotic shirts and their grandkids with flags. They had a professional photographer with them to record the great moment. We all entered the house and he was so surprised to see him family. Then his daughter introduced me and I presented his quilt. What a moment – he was so sharp. I told him that I was a bugler and he raised his hand and started acting like he was playing a trumpet. After I told him I was a Sergeant, he called me that from then on. Everyone took pictures with him from great grandkids to daughters – all generations. It was such a loving and proud moment. It’s days like these that make it so worth what we do. I left there feeling so proud of Quilts of Honor and that was only the first stop for the day.

Later Thursday night we were invited to award Millie Lewis, Women’s Army Corps veteran from WWII and who was turning 99 years of age, a Quilt of Honor. This woman is my hero. She is who paved the way for us female veterans. She is one among the few who received a bronze star. Her stories are that of a hero. Little did I know that she would be a Quilts of Honor hero also. That night I awarded her quilt among her close friends. There was a great buffet and bunt cakes that were to die for and they packed us up a box of cakes – Flo and I didn’t turn those down. I was so honored to be in the same room as Millie. I knew during WWII the women endured beyond what many realize.

When we finished that day and Flo and I had gotten into the truck to head home, we both looked at each other and said how happy we were to have Quilts of Honor. To my surprise, 4 days later the telephone rang and it was Millie’s friend. She explained to me that Millie had a foundation and they wanted to help us. They gave us a generous donation and of course I was calm on the phone but after I got off, I screamed to everyone in the shop what had just happened. What a gift and Millie is a true angel along with their foundation.

I must say, God has always looked out for Quilts of Honor and has a hand in every moment and he shows me that more every day.

To all our volunteers and supporters – thank you so much for continuing to help us complete our mission.

God bless,
Gail

 

Memorial Weekend 2016

This is always a busy week for Quilts of Honor. Normally we have a booth at “Not Forgotten” but we were trying to slow down. Does that really happen for us? I don’t think so.

Last Friday, the 20th, we went to Jackson to Project Thank You opening night and recognized three brothers who served in the Army and Marines, all from the same family. They were so proud to have served. The youngest said he thought everyone should have to serve. I was honored to meet them and very honored to award them quilts.

On Saturday night I had the honor of Playing to the Colors on my trumpet for a football sized flag carried by veterans of the County I live in. We had to march out across the Rodeo Marina – boy walking through that dirt wasn’t easy on these old legs. When the announcer told the crowd we were all veterans, the crowd went nuts, waving flags. It was scary and cool. When I finished we jumped in the car and drove 45 minutes to award 4 more Quilts of Honor to two veterans in the Dawn Riders Band performing at Project Thank You fundraiser. Project Thank You helps veterans and their families with nature-based activities and also sends care packages to our troops. We hadn’t eaten all day and Debbie, Flo and I were real hungry but when we walked in, the Project Thank You crew told us to sit down – we will feed you. The food was fit for a king and we loved it. While there we honored one of the veterans who works with Project Thank you and who had never been thanked. His wife stood by, tears streaming down her face and Michael kept saying, “This means so much.” We then noticed a Vietnam veteran in the crowd. We found out he had served 32 years in the Air Force so off to the car for another quilt. It was quite a night, but a very honorable one.

Then we headed into Memorial Weekend. We started Saturday presenting a quilt to a very deserving young man who served in the National Guard, 4 tours of deployment. His family knew what was happening but told him he was going to see a car show then we showed up and presented him with a quilt. He didn’t want to put his quilt down – he really loved it.

Being Memorial Weekend, I went with Flo to honor Johnny O. Brooks so she could place flowers and a flag at his gravesite. I surprised her and played taps. I’ve always felt they both went through so much. It was quiet and private, but honorable.

Sunday we attended the Not Forgotten event where usually 25,000 people attend to honor fallen warriors and their families. We were to award one quilt to Medal of Honor recipient, Sammy Davis. He told a little of his story and played a beautiful harmonica that he had learned to play in Vietnam. When I presented his quilt, Flo said everyone was saying how beautiful it was. Sammy noticed the quilted Eagles which made me proud.

We will end Memorial Day with me playing taps at our local cemetery with my American Legion Honor Guard.

May we all remember that this weekend is to remember all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Some of those veterans did not fall in the line of duty but died from wounds they suffered for years. May we never forget them.

God bless all of you who continue to help us complete our Mission and a part of the Quilts of Honor family. May we never forget and leave no one behind.

Gail

QOH and LIFE

Everyday has become an adventure and my schedule seems to be like a bouncing ball. We think, oh this week we will slow down – ha – that has made us all laugh now because it never slows anymore.

This past month we had an award ceremony at Fred’s Firearms in Oakdale, CA.  See, you never know where we will end up – a gun shop – really? We awarded three quilts that day while our Oakdale sew sisters looked on. One quilt was given to an Iraq veteran and two quilts to two Vietnam veterans. One of the Vietnam veterans presented us a nice letter in a frame thanking us. It was a nice, small ceremony but I loved the excitement of the Iraq veteran wanting a picture with his quilt and so proud.

Our next ceremony was at the Alameda Women’s History Month which we have attended for the last 5 years. This year’s event was held on the Coast Guard Station. Flo went with me and as soon as we drove through the gate there was a Post Exchange so naturally we detoured there first to do some shopping – you know that’s important, too. We eventually got to the event where we heard two very accomplished women veterans speak. One was a West Point graduate and the other was a Coast Guard Boatswain #321 which means she is certified to save lives – not many have that certification let alone a women. Both of these veterans showed how life in the military has changed but is still a fight for so many women. I was very honored to award these ladies quilts.

We had maybe a day or two and then off we went to the Veteran’s Center at Modesto Junior College to present quilts. We awarded a total of 5 quilts, mostly all Iraq veterans, one female veteran and 4 male veterans. We met up with our motorcycle gang who we had presented quilts to in February. It’s always great to get hugs from the guys and of course I’m working on getting a Harley ride with one. Most of the colleges now have Veteran’s Centers so veterans can find help and with us working with them, it has really started to heal some of those wounds in this younger generation.

It has been nice to have more help at QOH Headquarters. We have kept Abigail going as much as we can so that the quilts can keep going out the door.

We had our Spring Bunco this past weekend which was a great success. We made some money and everyone had fun. I was also thankful for Oakdale Sew Sisters – they surprised me with the most beautiful embroidered wall hanging made by Yvonne. I will truly treasure this gift.

What I do want each and every one of you to know is that I appreciate all of our QOH Family. It truly takes an Army of volunteers to keep QOH going and without all of you, our Mission wouldn’t be possible. Please keep on quilting. We have many more to go.

God Bless,
Gail

April 3, 2016

Newsletter link:   NewsletterApril2016final

Happy Spring!

Thank you to everyone who provided articles and photos for this issue of “Quilted Hugs”.  It is an honor sharing your stories with our QOH Family and community.

To receive future issues directly to your email inbox, you can sign up on our website at www.quiltsofhonor.org.

Jan Bolli

I sit here tonight and reflect how serving during the Vietnam era changed my life and so many others I know. We so often award our quilts to those Vietnam veterans and so many become very emotional. You can still see the pain in their eyes but then that quilt reaches their hands and soon there is a smile or a loving look. There are so many Vietnam veterans, their wounds so deep that you wonder how they have survived all these years.

This past week has been Vietnam Veterans Recognition Week with ceremonies in different towns and cities. It is nice to see this happening after 50 years.

FloBrooksI attended two different events this week and even today it is hard to think back. When you think back you have to remember those events you have blocked for so many years. Today was different. I sat in the audience just like any other veteran but I was there to support Flo. Flo was the speaker for the Vietnam Veteran’s Ceremony. She was there to tell her story of Johnny, and that she did. I was very proud of her. Since the first day I met Flo I knew she was special. Her love for Johnny is the kind you usually only read in books. I always knew she had the strength of an elephant (she will kill me for that) to have gone 41 years caring for a wounded warrior. She suffered just as many of us veterans suffered. She will tell you she didn’t – he was her husband; veterans will tell you we were doing our job – the parallels of both. Many would not have stood by their man like Flo did but when you get to know Flo you realize that she is passionate about anything she loves. Quilting became her big passion and Quilts of Honor is lucky enough to have her as part of our family. She honors our veterans – she understands – she lived it. God bless you Flo. I dedicate this to you for all you did for Johnny and what you continue to do. You are a true inspiration for Quilts of Honor and may we be able to quilt together for a long time to come.

We have had great workshops these last couple of months with 50 plus volunteers attending. I am so proud of these ladies who come every month. The passion of our Quilts of Honor family is beyond what I ever could have imagined.

This summer we are excited to be having a Patriotic quilt display on the USS Hornet on the Fourth of July weekend. That is one big ship. We invite all of our Quilts of Honor families, near or far, to participate if you would like. The biggest day will be the Fourth. More information will follow.

To all of our QOH groups out there – we are here for you and proud of your part in this organization.

God bless,
Gail

Calling All Hands on Deck

Dear Quilters,

Quilts of Honor has been invited to participate in a Fourth of July celebration on the decks of the USS Hornet with a patriotic quilt display and presentation.

The USS Hornet is docked in Alameda, California and is now a Museum.

They have a fun day planned with a car show and fireworks in the evening.  It will be a big family fun-filled day.

We will be displaying our quilts for three days (Saturday, Sunday and Monday).  Our requested quilt sizes are 50″ x 65″ or 55″ x 70″.  We are asking you to stay within these sizes due to the limitation of our quilt racks.  The quilts do not have to be Navy specific as we will see veterans from all branches of the service.  Quilt tops must be completed and sent to us by May 15, 2016;  completed quilts by June 25, 2016.

QOH Chapters – How about a trip to California?  You all are welcome to participate.

This is a wonderful opportunity for Quilts of Honor.  Hope you will be able to join us.

Stay tuned – more updates to follow…………

God bless all who continue to honor our mission.

Gail