Quilts of Valor: Seeking UP recipients
Quilts of Valor
Over the past 20 years, nearly 327,000 veterans have been touched and honored by the Quilts of Valor.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation was established in 2003 by Washington state resident Catherine Roberts. Through her vision, Roberts desired to pay tribute to her son, Nat. Serving in the Army, Nat was deployed to Iraq.
Upon returning to the United States, she saw a young man sitting on the side of his bed in the middle of the night, hunched over. The permeating feeling was one of utter despair.
Roberts is quoted, “I could see his war demons clustered around, dragging him down into an emotional gutter. Then, as if viewing a movie, I saw him in the next scene wrapped in a quilt. His whole demeanor changed from one of despair to one of hope and well-being. The quilt had made this dramatic change. The message of my dream was: Quilts equal healing.”
Currently, Quilts of Valor has 531 groups across the nation with 85 participating quilt shops affiliated with the organization. Canada and Australia also host similar Quilts of Valor groups.
Lynn L. Lebeck, is the Michigan Coordinator for Quilts of Valor. As a retired doctorate registered nurse anesthesiologist, she has been associated with Quits of Valor for ten plus years. Lebeck commented there are 19 official Quilts of Valor groups across the state. This past year they awarded 743 quilts.
She has awarded quilts to Afghanistan veterans to those from World War II. Her most memorable recipients were a 105-year-old veteran and a Canadian military member receiving hospice care in Port Huron rather than in Ontario because of the then Covid restrictions.
Lebeck is especially thankful in recognizing and awarding Vietnam era veterans. She commented, “As a country we failed horribly to separate feelings about the war from feelings about those who have served.”
In far northeastern Michigan the Quilts of Valor has the Quirky Quilters Quilt Guild. Dianna Rigato, has been engaged with the Guild’s mission for seven plus years.
At any given time, her quilting Guild has up to 70 members. She stated they meet the third Tuesday of every month at a United Methodist Church.
Rigato commented, “The Guild members offer their expertise and funds to produce quilts which traditionally are 55 by 75 inches or 72 by 95 inches.” She added, “A quilt can take 100 hours plus to create and are valued at over $300.”
Since the Guild’s founding they have awarded veterans over 300 quilts. Periodically quilts are presented to newborn infants, individuals experiencing abuse, foster children, and women facing breast cancer.
The Guild appears every two or three years at the Harvest of Quilts show. At this venue, they become aware of possible recipients. In addition, they connect with possible recipients through houses of worship and veteran service organizations, as well as the Quilts of Valor web site.
The Guild discusses their referral list. After the review, Rigato or another Guild member contact the veteran. Arrangements are made to meet the recipient and award them a quilt.
This past year Rigato traveled to Lake Michigan’s Beaver Island (population 600) and awarded 18 quilts to Vietnam era veterans.
Just south of the Straits of Mackinac in northwestern Michigan, Tresa Keys is associated with the Little Traverse Bay Quilters Guild.
Established in 1986 her Guild has 105 women and men members spread across a multi-county “tip of the mitt” region. The Guild became associated with the Quilts of Valor in 2014. Beginning this coming January, the Guild will meet twice a month with daytime and evening sessions.
Keys added, “We are on track this year awarding 60 quilts to veterans. In addition, we distribute quilts to the regional hospice program. women in domestic violence, hospitalized pediatric patients, and mini table mat size quilts to individuals who distribute meals on wheels.”
She revealed one of her most memorable quilt presentations was to a 100-year-old Work War II Iwo Jima veteran. She also recalls in recent years awarding several Upper Peninsula (UP) residents quilts.
Like other national Quilts of Valor Guilds, award recipients are made through their web site, as well as appearance at quilt shows, speaking engagements, and of course, word of mouth.
Lebeck, Rigato, and Keys jointly stated they are hopeful in presenting quilts to Upper Peninsula veterans. In addition, they would be delighted in establishing an “above the bridge” quilting chapter.
For more information in presenting veterans a quilt, becoming involved, or supporting the Quilts of Valor’s mission located in Winterset, Iowa, review their informative web site at www.qovf.org or call 515.619.6556 (CST).