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Most people really don’t think about our veterans except on Memorial Weekend and Veterans Day.  Those two months usually keep us running and this past May was no exception.

Some of you may not know that Delphia comes to the Shop on Monday and Tuesday of each week and Rick comes on Wednesday to run our computer Longarm, Abigail.  They keep the quilts moving all week and make it so we can keep awarding quilts.  Those two are getting pretty good on Abigail.

May 12:  QOH was scheduled to go to the Linden Lyons Club to speak and present a quilt.  My dad slipped and fell and split his wound open so off to the hospital we went.  Barb and her daughter, Carol, filled in for me.  They awarded a quilt to a Navy Seal and got us a large donation from the Club.  Thank you to both of them for coming through.  They got big blue ribbons.

May 13:  My first adventure was speaking at the Sacramento Rotary.  Becky, Rosemary and Gretchen, who do Quilts of Honor with us from the Sacramento area, were all present.  They often work with Rotary as their husbands are members.  Before I began to speak I decided to award a quilt so they could see what we do.  I called the recipient up to the front and he was truly surprised.  Charles is a Vietnam veteran who had never been thanked.  The quilt was special as it had been made by his Aunt Becky and Aunt Rosemary.  It was a pretty emotional moment for all and a long overdue thank you.

I gave my speech about Quilts of Honor and when I finish I always ask if there are any questions.  This time a few questions were asked and then I sat down.  A gentleman came to the front and said he had a question.  He said, “You must come from a pretty good upbringing to do this.”  I replied that I was raised in Dos Palos and Gustine, both small towns.  He then said, “I bet you were teased a lot about a little fat boy you hung around with.”  I said not that I can remember.  Well, he didn’t give up.  He kept repeating it and finally by this time I am getting frustrated so I blurt out, “do I know you?”  He says, “I’m Billy Martin.”  I still didn’t get it.  Then he said, “I went to 3rd and 4th grade with you and had a crush on you.”  Well, everyone in the place went crazy laughing.  I must have been 10 shades of red.  I did finally remember and what a shock.  It was pretty cool – you never know who could come into your life again one day.  Note:  he isn’t fat anymore.

May 16:  At the Calaveras County Fair, I had the honor of playing To the Colors as 75 plus veterans unfolded a 38 foot flag.  I marched out into the horse arena with the Color Guard through the cow and horse pies.  That was real interesting especially when I’m not as young as I used to be and these old legs ain’t what they used to be.

May 17:  Quilts of Honor went to Niles, CA where they were having a Quilt and Garden Show.  Flo, Debbie and I setup a booth and met Belle and Laura, our QOH family from that area.  Belle’s daughter has a quilt shop there, “Color Me Quilts”, so Flo went shopping.  We awarded one quilt to a Vietnam veteran in a wheelchair.  He smiled so bit and later I was told he wouldn’t let anyone take it off his lap.  It was cold and windy but we enjoyed the day.  It would be a great day trip for quilters in central and northern California – two quilt shops and lots of antiques.

May 19:  We were scheduled to go to Visalia to award quilts and speak.  This time when I got up to speak, I asked if there was anyone from my home towns – tell me now.  We awarded three quilts.  Marilee and Dolores came to be a part of it as I was speaking to the Daughters of the American Revolution.  We all three belong to the Turlock Chapter.  It was a nice day.

We left there and went to Dinuba to see the small replica of the Vietnam Wall and to see if Johnnie’s name was on the Wall.  Then we went to Reedley to a quilt shop then, it being a three hour drive, we started home with a quick trip to see my Aunt and Uncle, 88 yrs and 91 yrs, when I get a call from home that dad isn’t feeling good.  One hour into the trip they took him to Emergency.  I was lucky I didn’t get a ticket the rest of the way.  I went straight to emergency where they had admitted dad.

May 23-24:  Not Forgotten Event, Manteca, CA with the traveling Vietnam Veterans Wall.

There are so many stories.  We worked two full days and were on our feet almost the whole two days awarding quilts.  The first day we awarded 33 quilts; the second day 40 quilts.  These quilts were all given spontaneously.  We would see the veteran’s hat, walk up and talk to him to see if he or she qualified.  When the one interviewing knew, they would signal and we would grab a quilt, walk up and present.  So many tears as these were veterans coming to that Wall to see their friends and pay their respects.  It was so emotional for so many as they never expected what we did but when we presented a quilt, many cried deeply.  Some came back to see us on the second day.  Carl took pictures of everyone that received a quilt and emailed them a picture of them receiving a quilt.  We have gotten many heartfelt thank yous.  I was so proud of all of our QOH workers.  Everybody went the extra mile in the heat and wind.  All of our quilts were stunning and were an honor to give.  We made quite an impression on so many – not just the veteran but their family and friends were equally surprised and thankful.

It took us a few days to recover but we gave out a quilt on the 29th at the Shop to a Vietnam veteran.  I ended the month by awarding a quilt to my good friend, Gene, who turned 80 years old.  I surprised him and he just cried and said, “you don’t know what this means to me.”

We also shipped 3 quilts to Alaska where Marsha Borelli-Silva will award them for Quilts of Honor.  So, I would say, yes – May was memorable.

Dad Belmont had a 4 hour surgery Sunday and we hope he will be on the mend.  He has definitely kept us going.

To my second Mom in Gardnerville, NV – keep getting better.  I love you and miss you and will see you soon.

God bless everyone for your prayers.  God bless you all – you have done an awesome job for our veterans.

Gail

Memorial Weekend Begins

Friday we set up for the Not Forgotten Event in Manteca where we will be a vendor for two days.  They put us right in front of the Vietnam Traveling Wall but we weren’t planning on awarding any quilts on Friday.  So, right off a Vietnam Vet walks up to Flo and Barb and starts telling his story.  Why he picked us, I don’t’ know.  We hadn’t put up a sign yet, just our tents but you could tell he was distraught.  He turned and walked off and I asked Flo and Barb what he wanted.  They said he didn’t know the Vietnam Wall was here and that it included his brothers in Vietnam.  I told Debbie to go get him; we have to give him a quilt.  Debbie ran, and I mean ran, after him.  She told him we wanted to talk to him some more.  I introduced myself and talked to him as the girls feverishly looked for a Marine case and fabric pen.  Remember, we weren’t setup yet.  We finally had it together enough to award him a quilt.  He was so overwhelmed but so thankful and happy.  He then asked if he could pray with us.  We all got in a circle, arms around each other, and he thanked God for us and what we do.  That was a very special moment.  In all the years, we have never had one like Friday.

Sometimes we work so hard at QOH and we really wonder if this is too much but today showed how special it is.  This is a good start to remembering all our heroes.

Update on Dad Belmont – more tests being done and we hope to know more today.  Please keep the prayers going.

God bless all of you,
Gail

Recently we received correspondence from a quilter and husband wanting to make quilts for Quilts of Honor.  This is their story:

“My husband actually agreed to attend a quilt show with me.  So one beautiful day in Sonora, CA in 2014, we walked into a building full of quilts.  My husband was wearing his VietNam Vet hat and as we approached the Quilts of Honor booth he was immediately surrounded by women who were thanking him for serving our nation.  They shook his hand, gave him hugs, took his photo.  We both were so overwhelmed as they presented him with a quilt that neither of us could speak.  And that continues to be the case to this day.  Tears well up and a lump fills the throat, the emotion is so great.  After all the years of being condemned, FINALLY, someone (a lot of someones) was saying Thank You.  And we find this to be true throughout the Central Valley of California – unlike the rest of the state.  So, when a couple of my quilt organizations started making Blocks of the Month, I decided to make mine in red, white and blue so I could pay back this kindness and I can pay forward to the wonderful men and women who have given big parts of their lives to serve this country.

I will continue to make my BOMs for QOH and hope to have 2-3 quilt tops per year to donate to this wonderful project.

Thank you, Gail, and all your associates for caring about those who have sacrificed so much.    Elaine”

Thank you all for supporting our Mission.  God bless,
Gail

Quilts of Honor Family

Today I learned what Quilts of Honor Family is all about and I was on the receiving end.  I often talk about how we are family, we gather each month for our workshops so we can make our quilts, we laugh, we eat, we cry, we enjoy each other’s company and we enjoy what we are doing for veterans.  We have built friendships and for 5 years so many of our QOH family keep coming back.  Some drive two hours but they make it.  That, to me, is determination and a love for Quilts of Honor.  I always felt blessed so many would show up to help and work their fingers off all day binding, cutting fabric and sharing quilting ideas.

Today they blessed me.  It’s been a pretty tough year for our family with Dad Belmont but after his last fall, we hope once again he will be on the road to recovery.  Through this past year our family decided to turn the barn into a little house for me.  That way I could be closer to Mom and Dad and help out.  For me, taking care of them is a no brainer.  I’m the oldest and they deserve the best of life.  I lived in my other house for 20 years so it has been quite an adjustment but God seems to always have plans for me.  Being closer I can hopefully quilt more when all is settled.

Through all of this, my QOH family has watched and I think worried as so much was changing for me.  So, they decided to throw me a “Barn Warming”.  Of course I did have to clean house so everyone could see.  Well, they did it up good.  We had the best food and over 40 people came.  My bedroom was once the tack room – that makes a good story when showing the barn off.  I got the cutest things and a money tree.  With the extra money I will put in a water softener.  I got an olive tree that I can’t wait to plant and watch it grow as QOH has grown.

THANK YOU is not enough for all those who came to the “Barn Warming”, brought food, gifts and smiles and hugs.  The cake was to die for – lemon made by Villa Bakery with a barn on it.  We all loved it and I had it for dinner, too.

Today proved what a giving group we really are, but I already knew that by all that you give to Quilts of Honor and myself.  It was good to see some of our family that can’t make it to the workshops but are a part of us.

To my QOH Board, I couldn’t do it without you and your undying support 24/7.  To Willene and Cliff, Barbara, Debbie, Andy and Flo who started the morning so early setting up cooking and not letting me do much – I will always be grateful and blessed you are in my life.

God bless each and every one of our Quilts of Honor family.  Love you all.  I hope you all know how special you are.

We have a busy month of May so I’ll be posting our events – stay tuned……

Gail

Barn Warming Cake

Barn Warming Cake

Here we go again – another adventure for Dad Belmont.  Don’t know if many of you know that Dad fell last week.  Being the Marine that he is, he decided he was going to go get the leaf blower out of the shed.  His right side has never been stable since his stroke but it doesn’t stop him.  This time he fell down the hill behind the shop and couldn’t get up.  He crawled on his back up the hill so he could get help.  Mom Belmont didn’t even know he was outside.  I was 45 minutes away and had no signal at Veteran Affairs.  When I finally got a signal there were 6 voicemails on my phone.  Dad had broken his right hip; he had surgery the next day; and tonight we left him at a Rehabilitation center in Lodi, CA.  It was pretty hard to leave him there but he showed us he isn’t ready to give up.  He also showed us what Marines are made of even when they are 85 years old.  Since Mom and he have been married 64 years, it’s hard for them to be separated.  As Deb says, two peas in a pod.  We thank you for all the calls and prayers.  Our QOH family has come to the rescue again by stepping up to help.  We are still trying to maintain our regular schedule for the Shop and Quilts of Honor.

Saturday I had the honor of being the guest speaker at the Karl Ross Auxiliary’s Tea.  You should have seen those ladies all dressed up in their Sunday dress and hats, too.  Debbie went with me and she had her Sunday best on too.  Her husband told her she looked like the salt girl – that was quite a conversation about her outfit.  There were great finger foods and the best little deserts.

When I got up to speak, we had trouble locating our quilt recipient.  We thought she was going to be a now show.  Remember, we like to surprise our quilt recipients so first thing I did was tell everyone we were changing things up and I was going to present a very special lady veteran a quilt and I said her name.  I didn’t see the look on her face as I came down off the podium but she was totally taken back.  She said, “I am so honored.”  I went back to the podium and said my piece.  After we had our goodies, the ladies surprised the women veterans by calling us all up to the podium and honored each of us.  We were all different generations and eras from WWII to current.  We each received a certificate – that was all pretty cool.

I would like to thank the American Legion Post 16 Auxiliary for asking me to be their guest speaker and for the award.  I really needed more quilts and you would think by now I learned to carry 5 or 6 quilts all the time.  It was great to see all the ladies dressed up and they seemed to enjoy it.

I will try to keep you updated more often as long as I can still remember what we have done.

God bless all – be safe,
Gail

Happy Easter To All

The first week of April was quite a week – 4 days in Texas, fly home, then award two quilts on Friday.  We went to the University of the Pacific and met our United Way partner, Andy.  I had never been around the campus – it’s really beautiful.  We went to meet the weekly men’s coffee club and surprise a WWII veteran.  Quite a few people knew Paul was receiving a quilt but everyone kept the secret.  Andy got up and got the microphone – apparently Paul runs the meeting so when Andy took the mic, Paul looked at him like what are you doing.  It was great.  Andy told Paul we are honoring you, then I stepped up, took his hand and shook it and thanked him for his sacrifice and service to our country.  He was totally surprised – you couldn’t get that smile off his face.  Paul is 92 years young – you sure wouldn’t have guessed it.  So proud to honor these WWII veterans.

Then we drove to the other side of Stockton, CA and awarded another quilt to a Coast Guard veteran.  Bob is a WWII veteran and he too was surprised by his quilt.  The quilt was made by Wally, our 91 year old Navy veteran who pieces tops for Quilts of Honor.  Bob’s house was like a museum; we got to see so many great things.  Flo and Andy were great to keep me company and we enjoyed the time we shared giving Quilts of Honor.

It has been a blessed week just as it should be as we all celebrate Easter.  Here we are into the second week of April and it really hasn’t slowed down much for us.  We are preparing for May as it seems Memorial Day makes more people aware of our veterans.  From mid May to the end of May we are pretty much booked.  Hopefully I will be able to keep you up-to-date on our travels and adventures.  For any in the valley area, I will be speaking at Karl Ross Post 16 at the Women’s Auxiliary Tea on April 11th.  Everyone is welcome.  Tickets are $15.00.

Thank you all for your continued support.  God bless all.
Gail

We Will Be Back, Texas

Our morning started early.  Fred and I took Mocha to the Dog Park.  Now that is city living when you have to go to the Dog Park.  We then packed up and headed to Natalia, Texas for the workshop.  We met Debbie, our QOH partner, there and set up for the workshop.  The ladies started on kits that Fred had put together.  There were 18 ladies, not as many as usual, because there was a funeral of one of the church members.  We had awesome homemade pecan rolls, cookies, and lots of good finger food.  My only job was picking out a block.

Our big excitement of the morning was my wearing a fastanator.  A very nice lady came up to me and asked if I would wear a fastanator.  I asked what it was and she said she had one on her head.  It was red, purple and pink – really not my colors – but within seconds she had put it on my head.  I thought Barbara was going to fall over laughing.  Now, I’m trying to be polite and this nice lady said she could make me a patriotic one.  We’ll see, but we sure got a laugh out of it.  She told me I looked sassy and the guys would make nice comments.  So, quite entertaining.  We had a nice lunch and spent most of the day at the workshop.

We left there and went to get Fred set up at the bank – 2 ½ hours later all three of us were about crazy.  We ended up going to Blancos for BBQ.  It was so good.  It would be worth coming back.

We had a great, fast trip; met some wonderful people and dogs.  Loved the wildflowers.  It is such a military town and the need for quilts is great.  This group is slowly growing.  In the 2 years since they began, they have done an awesome job.

I will close for now so we can go eat Bluebell ice cream and brownies.  Until our next adventure……

God bless,
Gail
We will be back, Texas!

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