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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

 

 

We are home safe after a busy San Diego trip. It still amazes me when we do these reunions – the emotions of our veterans. I never really know what to expect as this is only our third big veteran’s reunion. The organizers kept it really quiet and only the committee knew that all the veterans at the reunion would be getting a quilt.

When we walked into the banquet that night, we had our red vests on and the whole QOH crew was circled around one table. We stayed right there as we didn’t want to blow the surprise. We ate dinner first – tri-tip and salmon. What they didn’t tell us was it was both so when my plate arrived, I almost chocked. I just figured I wouldn’t eat then Flo came to my rescue and asked the waiter for a plate with just trip-tip – boy was I a happy camper.

After dinner, Jim, the Master of Ceremonies, said we have a special night planned for you and he introduced me but didn’t say what we did. I gave my little speech then told them I would be the SSG in charge and that we would be awarding each of them a quilt. It took all eight of us as we called 5 veterans up to the front at a time. I presented, the girls ran the quilts, and Louie took pictures.

The first veteran just broke into tears and the veteran next to him broke into tears – it just kept going like that. It didn’t matter that they knew they were getting quilts. The tears just kept flowing. They started giving me hugs and kisses. One guy said he was French so he gave me a kiss on each cheek.

I looked out into the crowd at one moment and there were cameras everywhere. Then I looked at some of the veteran’s faces – their faces were so strained trying to keep their emotions held back. After all the quilts were given out, they all wanted pictures with us. While we were taking pictures, some of the guys went out into the foyer and spread out with their quilts all along the wall. It was a site to behold. It even took me back when I walked out there. I said, “Wow, that’s a lot of quilts.” They must have stood like that for 10 minutes with their arms stretched out holding their quilts. The wives were coming up to us, hugging and thanking us – they were even crying.

As we got ready to head for our rooms we passed a veteran on a scooter. As I passed him he said, “Hey.” I went back to him and he had big tears in his eyes. He said, “When we came home nobody did this. They spit on us.” Then he handed me a $100 bill. When I walked back to the QOH crew and told them, they all went and thanked him. We then went upstairs to the hospitality room and the guys presented us with t-shirts and a cap from their ship. They all just kept passing us and saying thank you.

It was one very emotional night. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would say it was a 10.

Ladies and gentlemen – these quilts have become lifelines for so many. I will save some of the stories for our QOH Workshop. I’m so proud to have each one of you helping us to do this Mission. It’s so worth every hour we put in especially when you see what it does for so many. May we all continue to be blessed to sew and fill the need of our quilts.

Thank you to my crew – they are always organized and work their buns off to make us do a good job. Stay tuned for more adventures to come. We will have some up and coming new events we can all enjoy.

Another mission complete!  God bless,
Gail

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