Quilting For Nursing Homes
The Joy of Giving
Dad's in a nursing home
Three times last year my Mother and I were told Dad was not going to make it. In one of the depressions this caused my Mother, she decided to give away everything in her sewing room. (She had not done any sewing or quilting for a number of years at this point.) There were many many quilt tops ready to be made into quilts and each one I held up she would pause and say "oh, I started that for you 10 years ago..." or something very similar. I told her it was not hers to give away then, she had to either finish it or teach me to quilt.
Last June I began to learn to quilt. Mom and I work on quilts together. She does most of the piecing, I do most of the quilting. We noticed in the nursing home a woman who never seemed to have any visitors, and always seemed very very frightened and confused. We will call her Sarah to protect her real identity. We learned from the nursing staff she indeed never had visitors and was always afraid, depressed and confused. We made Sarah a lap quilt to have over her legs when she was in her wheelchair.
When I gave her the quilt, she did not want to take it, but after all, her name was on it, and I told her it was so she would know that someone cared about her, and it was to cheer her up. Something rather remarkable happened next. Sarah for the first time began to participate in some of the activities provided by the nursing home staff. She always has a very big smile for me and for my Mother, and usually greets us even if it is only to tell me that she is a little confused today. Seeing how she responded to this attention of getting a gift caused someone else to give her a Christmas present which she joyfully showed me.
Other patients saw the quilt and started dropping hints ..some subtle, some not so subtle that they too would like to have a lap quilt. Since I started learning to quilt, I have worked on 19 quilts. Most of them lap quilts for patients at nursing homes.
It seems the more we make, the more folks want one. It is a joy to do these quilts for these people, but there is one problem that we are about to face in our own personal charity. The costs are going to become prohibitive as our stash of all cotton materials dwindles.
The average cost of a yard of all cotton material is around $10 these days. If you are a quilter you know that sometimes it takes more than a yard for the back of a quilt, even a laptop one. Mother wants to keep doing the quilts as do I. It is not just the joy of giving them, it is such incredible good therapy for my Mother and gives her life purpose.
Mom said I should put it on the internet somewhere that we will accept donations of all cotton material if anyone is interested in helping us to continue our own private charity. We are not a tax exemption, and not likely to become one any time soon since it is just the two of us, and the paperwork to do that would take us away from quilting. Material needs to be 100% cotton as that is what we work in , and most nursing home facilities have laundries that boil everything so no synthetics would hold up for long.
If you are interested in donating material, please contact a local quilt guild or other local quilting charities, like the Linus project, the quilters for others of the local guilds, or the quilts for veterans groups that are always quilting for hospitals, nursing homes, veterans, wounded warriors and others.
If you are a quilter and just want to feel good, want to give back to the community, consider doing some quilts for local nursing homes.