Time to give thanks for good deeds
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m writing today about generosity and the kindness of the human spirit. I feel it’s important to pay tribute to those who make a concerted effort to help the less fortunate among us and to comfort those who are afflicted with disease. I am grateful for their altruism.
Breast cancer stalks Jana Newby’s family like a predator. The 54-year-old Clifton woman was diagnosed more than five years ago with the disease. She is relieved to report today that she is cancer-free.
Her mother, who also had breast cancer in 1968 and had a radical mastectomy, is a cancer survivor, but another of Newby’s siblings was not so lucky. Her sister, Nancy Julian of Longmont, died in 2000, after being initially treated, then discovering the cancer’s recurrence in her other breast.
This past January, the third sister in the family received the dreaded news. Newby wanted to support her sibling, Corrine Strobel, who lives near Chicago.
“I really wanted to do something that was positive,” Newby says.
She turned to the comfort of quilting, organizing donations of blocks to make a community quilt honoring those who have or have had cancer. Newby asked the public to donate 6 1/2-inch squares to her cause. The owners of Quilter’s Corner in Grand Junction allowed her to use their store space to assemble the quilt, and Lorraine Preuss of Grand Junction donated her time and talent to machine quilt it.
The result is a large “Pink Ribbon” quilt that brought $250 at auction last month during a Mesa State women’s volleyball game in Grand Junction. The pink ribbon is a symbol of breast cancer awareness. Newby donated the money to the Cancer Survivorship Program at St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center.
Program coordinator Debra Hesse says her goal is to help reduce the fear and anxiety of patients and help them embrace their “new normal.”
“We have lots of free education and support groups, and I buy materials for art classes and yoga classes,” she says.
Hesse also helps organize four retreats each year for survivors and their supporters and supervises 40 volunteers who visit new patients and give them handmade lap quilts and tote bags.
Newby has two daughters and says she worries about their cancer risk. She plans to make another quilt of donated squares in 2010, with proceeds from its sale going to the cancer programs. For information about the survivorship program, call Hesse at 244-2351.
Blue Pig Gallery in Palisade has chosen Project Linus as one of its “pet piglet” charities. Project Linus provides handmade “comfort blankets” to children in need or who are going through difficult situations, often medical treatment. Quilters and knitters are invited to work-along sessions from 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 7 and Jan. 2 at the gallery. Fiber artist Kathy Spoering will be on hand to assist, so bring your work in progress and knit, crochet or quilt with others. A free knitting pattern called “Pig in a Blanket” is available at the gallery. Other patterns can be found at http://www.projectlinus.org.
A reception for makers and donors is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 6 at the gallery, 119 W. Third St., Palisade; all of the finished blankets and quilts will be on display that day before being given to the area Project Linus coordinator for distribution.
For information, call the gallery at 464-4819 or go to http://www.bluepiggallery.com.
On Oct. 24, a group of quilters at the Palisade Church of the Nazarene staged a quilt show and Navajo rug sale. One of their missions is to improve the lives of American Indians living on the Navajo reservation in Cornfields, Ariz. Many live in homes with no electricity or running water.
According to church member Gyneeta Roe, about 200 people came to view 130 quilts on display. All of the rugs — woven by women on the reservation — sold, as well as some of their authentic jewelry.
“More than $6,000 in sales and donations were raised,” Roe says.
Proceeds went to help Navajo cancer patients who must travel 200 to 300 miles for treatment. Three of the patients are children, ages 6, 8 and 11.
The church’s event also resulted in the distribution of $2,700 from a private fund directly to families on the reservation.
Rita Larson of Grand Junction led a team of volunteers from Crossroads United Methodist Church on a mission to a rural village in Kenya in June. The goal was to purchase sewing machines for the poor women in the village, where Larson had traveled in 2006 to teach them how to quilt.
If they can start a cottage quilting industry, the women can sell what they make to tourists. Many are grandmothers raising orphaned children whose parents died from malaria and AIDS, and they need to raise money to pay for the children’s education.
Larson told me recently that the trip was most rewarding, with $4,500 donated to her church to buy sewing machines. Many donors sent $100, the price listed per machine, saying, “I can’t go to Kenya, but I can give a hundred dollars to buy a machine for these women.”
The village women had prayed for just one machine, and when they received many, “they danced and praised God,” Larson says. And she wept.
Good deeds, indeed.