Quilting needles ‘powerful as hammers’
Housewarming project provides wall hangings for new owners of MDS homes.by Laurie Oswald Robinson
Hammers ring hope” in Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) building projects. And since 2005, needles also ring hope as quilters stitch healing into those same storm-ripped lives through Housewarming, a Sister Link Project of Mennonite Women USA (MW USA).
Elaine Good holds a quilted wall hanging to be given as a gift through Mennonite Women USA’s Sister Link program.
The project, begun in November 2004, connects quilters from across Mennonite Church USA with homeowners who are served at MDS sites. So far, 92 quilted wall hangings have been given as gifts for homeowners of new or rebuilt homes.
“Quilters can contribute to a recovery process when they can’t go out and pick up a hammer and work on a project directly,” says Saundra Gale, a former MDS volunteer at project sites in California and Louisiana who helped give wall hangings to homeowners.
Gale continues, “A needle is just as powerful as a hammer. I see the looks of joy and gratitude on clients’ faces during the dedication when the wall hangings are given.”
MW USA board president Rebecca Sommers first envisioned this Sister Link after learning from MDS that many of the homeowners are single mothers. She felt this extra touch would be important to women.
After Rebecca shared this information with Elaine Good, MW USA president 2001-2005, Good volunteered to coordinate the effort.
Good’s job is to be a bridge between the quilters and the MDS site coordinators. To begin, letters were sent to MW groups, inviting quilters to make wall hangings. The letter included instructions and dimensions for the hangings. Response was immediate and generous.
After a wall hanging is done, Good contacts MDS site coordinators to learn where the wall hanging is needed. She then gives the quilter mailing instructions. Work in the Gulf region is ongoing with sites in Pass Christian, Miss.; Diamond, La.; New Orleans, La.; and Mobile, Ala.; among others. For more information, go to www.mds.mennonite.net.
Good’s work includes administration, but it also provides an opportunity to hear touching stories. She is often told about tears of gratitude at home dedications. Families are given a Bible, the book The Hammer Rings Hope, a quilted wall hanging and keys to their new house.
Good has created a photo album of donors and recipients.
A recipient in Julian, Calif., who received one of the first wall hangings, said, “In the weeks and months to come, we will do our best in our own way to give back to someone else what you so selflessly gave to us.”
“This circle of giving and receiving are what Sister Link projects are meant to achieve,” says Rhoda Keener, MW USA’s executive director. Housewarming is one of many Sister Links sponsored by MW USA.
In August 2008, Good will hand over the coordinator job to Eloise Yoder, Archbold, Ohio, and Sarasota, Fla. Yoder, an avid quilter, has contributed wall hangings to this Sister Link since 2005.—Laurie Oswald Robinson for Mennonite Church USA
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