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Good Samaritan Hospice Volunteers Create Personalized Memory Quilts

February 25, 2014

Below is a story on how one specific group of Good Samaritan Hospice volunteers makes a tremendous impact on families, published in a past issue of Faith in Caring magazine. To be added to the mailing list or e-mail distribution list, e-mail us here or call the Concordia Public Relations Department at 724-352-1571, ext. 8266. Enjoy!

As people go through their daily lives, experiences are amassed, memories are formed and passions are created. Eventually, those passions become who we are.

Perhaps the best metaphor possible is a quilt. Every patch (passion) may communicate something different when it stands on its own, before it's sewn together with other patches. But when all is said and done, and all the patches are in place, the quilt takes form and becomes a singular picture of the individual, as crisp and clear as any photograph.

Several devoted volunteers at Good Samaritan Hospice are working to help make this metaphor a reality - creating personalized "memory quilts" for some of the families of patients who have passed away.

To each their own

Quilts are nothing new at Good Samaritan Hospice. For years, volunteers have made quilts and pillows for families who have lost a loved one. Somewhere along the line, though, someone got the idea to make it personal.

The memory quilts being created today incorporate ideas and fabrics directly from patients and their families. So, for example, John's memory quilt may include a Pittsburgh Steelers fabric, a few patches from his beloved plaid shirts and a section devoted to his adored Beagle. Mary's memory quilt, though, may include cats, gardening and a few patches made from her college sweatshirts.

As of now, there are only a handful of dedicated volunteers producing these cherished quilts, including Gloria Walker of Valencia and Fanny Hall of Aliquippa.

After a patient's family requests a quilt, they talk to Volunteer Coordinator Erin Middleton to give ideas and articles of clothing and other fabrics for the quilt. Erin then sends the materials to the quilters.

Gloria and Fanny have both seen their share of interesting items/ideas to incorporate into a memory quilt. Some of the more popular things are sports, the outdoors and animals.

Fanny once had a family request that all the logos from one gentleman's polo shirts be incorporated. Gloria's most interesting item required a little explanation.

"One family gave me sweatshirt that was pretty old and stained, and I was a little confused when they said they wanted me to incorporate some of the stained parts of the shirt into the quilt," Gloria said. "It turns out, that was the lady's lucky bingo shirt that she wore every time she'd play, and it was very special to her."

A tool for healing

Between the two of them, they have made over 35 quilts in the last several months (as of Nov. 2012). And at approximately 12 hours a pop, that's well over 400 hours of sewing, stitching and, well, quilting.

"For me, making these quilts helps me give back in some way," Fanny said. "And I know they bring so much joy to the families. Plus, I need something to keep me busy and productive."

Gloria agreed, saying she has received a number of thank you notes from appreciative families, and that helping other people has always been a part of her life. Another thing the two have in common is that they both had a loved one in hospice care, which helped draw them to this ministry.

One thing is for sure: now that the word is out on how special these memory quilts are, more Glorias and Fannys are needed to keep up with the requests.

"These quilts are incredible tools for comfort and healing; they truly impact the families who request them," Erin said. "And as Good Samaritan Hospice grows, we can't even keep up with the demand!"

More quilters and cotton/cotton blend fabric donations are currently needed! If you or your church/community group has a heart for hospice or quilting, call Volunteer Coordinator Erin Middleton at 1-800-720-2557 or e-mail here. Visit on the Web at www.good-samaritanhospice.org.

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