Fearless Quilters Inspired by Visit to Hospital - Guest Post by Patty Smith
About three years ago a group of women from Circle Too decided to learn how to quilt, creating special baby blankets for Laura Alonso and Kerry Messett, as they became first-time grandmothers. The project was so much fun that several ladies decided to create a regular quilting group, initially holding it at Esther’s Fabrics to encourage non-church affiliated women to join them.
We called ourselves “Fearless Quilters,” as motivation for first time sewers and quilters to sew for joy and creativity rather than fixate on quilting “rules” established for the purpose of judging. Our first group quilt was donated to the American Hero project, which distributes red, white and blue quilts to injured service men and women.
Shortly thereafter we learned about Katie’s Comforters, a Seattle Children’s Hospital guild established by Karen Gerstenberger in honor of her daughter, Katie, who lost her struggle against cancer. The Gerstenberger family had been members of Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church at the time of this sad event, so it was a quick and easy decision to turn the Fearless Quilters’ attention to creating quilts for children with cancer.
Most recently, last month on August 24, a group of eight Fearless Quilters gathered up the 40 quilts and blankets we had completed and made a field trip to Seattle Children’s Hospital. This brought the total number of Fearless Quilts we have delivered to the hospital in the past few years to 79. In appreciation, Karen Gerstenberger arranged to have our group escorted on a VIP 90-minute tour of this incredible facility. We had three women guiding us as we first met the volunteer coordinator, then with nurse manager Ron in the state-of-art emergency department downstairs, followed by a presentation by child life staff member Callie, upstairs at the 48-bed cancer unit.
Our group came away in awe of this fabulous hospital and newly inspired to dedicate even more time to sewing and quilting. We learned that 500-600 quilts/blankets are distributed monthly to children staying overnight. The average stay is 3-5 days, with 405,000 visits last year. It is the largest pediatric hospital on the West Coast and fifth in the nation in population served. The facility sits on 25 acres and has enough staff and visitors to support three Starbucks on the campus.
In addition to quilts, we learned from Callie that other new items are also appreciated and distributed to the children and their families: window stickers, helmets, games, fingernail polish, toiletries, gift cards, gas cards, Safeway cards, new bathing suits (including adult sizes — the hospital has a swimming pool and parents staying overnight with their children often don’t think to pack a suit). She helpfully suggested that people wanting to donate can check out Seattle Children’s Hospital wish list on Amazon.
Fearless Quilters meets monthly on the 4th Thursday in a dedicated room at the back of the church (lower Hoadley building, use the reiki room entrance). It is a drop-in type day, with someone usually there from 10 am - 3 pm. Bring a sack lunch if you like. There are pre-cut quilt kits available ($20 deposit, money returned when the completed quilt top is brought back) and friendly quilters happy to teach. There are non-sewing tasks including sorting donated fabrics, ironing or cutting pieces. Stopping in to visit and chat is also encouraged! For further information on Fearless Quilters, call the Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church office at 206-842-3098 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a final note, one of our guides mentioned her 7-year-old granddaughter has made and donated four quilts to Katie’s Comforters. Fearless Quilters would like to encourage mother/daughter teams to stop by and consider learning to quilt together!