A Captive Audience

Julie Mulligan
 

Quilters are a talented group, dedicated to their craft, creating works of art in the warmth and comfort of a quilt, an artistic wall hanging or table runner, or other uniquely stitched masterpiece, all for the love of quilting.
 On Thursday, October 20th at the Mulhurst Community Hall, amidst a room lined with beautiful quilts and other quilted items handcrafted by members of the Mulhurst Quilting Club, 250 women gathered for the annual Ladies Day & Quilt Show.
 Betty McKeever, MC and Event co-Chairman, welcomed all and introduced the executive and her co-Chairman of the event, Carol Yachimec, noting that as “quilt angels (their club members) - we are your hostesses for the day.”
 The sell-out all-female crowd were there to enjoy a day of entertainment, lunch, door prizes and socializing while admiring the quilting handiwork of the Mulhurst Quilting Club.
 Betty thanked the Mulhurst Community League and acknowledged the many businesses and individuals who generously donated to their event.  “We have a very giving community,” she added, noting that this is the 15th annual Ladies Day the club has hosted.  To celebrate this special occasion two additional door prizes were drawn for, jewellery items donated by Randall Kay.
 The club currently has 35 members who meet every Wednesday at the Mulhurst hall.   The women are more than generous of their time and talent throughout the year as they collectively create quilts to donate to various people who have suffered an illness or tragedy.  This past year they donated over 50 quilts, with several sent to Slave Lake for fire disaster victims, and more recently to the Blakely family of Wizard Lake who recently lost their home to a fire.
 Other than a selected few quilts set aside for silent auction and raffle items, the remainder displayed provided an opportunity for the ladies attending to view them, voting for their favourites.  After the ballots were counted later in the day, three club members were presented with the Viewers Choice Awards:  Carol Banks, Liz Schmidt and Marie Hartfelder.
 The morning program included a guest speaker, Julie Mulligan from Drayton Valley, who in April, 2009 was kidnapped and taken hostage for two weeks while in Nigeria while on a Rotarian Exchange program.  Her story had made international headlines.
 “I now can recall the experience, but not the trauma,” she said, speaking for over an hour, sharing personal details of this remarkable ordeal.  The room fell silent as all listened intently of her incredulous encounter that changed her life.  Not knowing if she would live to ever see her family again, somehow Julie found the courage to confront her fears and she survived this unbelievable situation. She came home unharmed and has incredible gratitude for the Canadian Government, who aided in her rescue. 
 Finding comfort in a quilt is not something that Julie Mulligan takes for granted anymore, after sleeping on a board and covering herself with empty cement bags to ward off mosquitoes.  “I had a lot of very dark moments from this experience, but I’m a very lucky person.”
 “The major difference between those of us who have and those of us who don’t is simply a matter of geography,” she said.  “Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.  Choose a life that matters, doing things that matter.  My standing here today, maybe that matters in your life.”
 The day’s event continued into the afternoon with a delicious catered meal by Bob Ronnie Catering from Ponoka, followed by entertainment from vocalist Debora Stark on the keyboard and Mary Ellen Herman who had everyone laughing in her comedic routine of  “Colleen McGillicuddy”.
 The winners of the Quilt Club Raffle were drawn and announced, with Harry Harrison of Mulhurst winning the large quilt, Doreen Laidlaw from Devon winning the lap quilt, and Danielle Marchand of Wetaskiwin winning the baby “wiggles” quilt.  Appreciation was extended to Betty Leeming for coordinating ticket sales, which took place at several locations over the past months.
 Event co-Chairman Betty McKeever said she was pleased with the turn out and the success of their Ladies Day.  “If all the ladies had a good time, that’s what it’s all about.”

 “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face…you must do the thing you cannot do.”  Eleanor Roosevelt    
 Julie was kidnapped for political reasons in a country that struggles with poverty. In speaking about her experience in Nigeria, Julie Mulligan has joined her fellow International Rotarians to raise awareness and funds in fighting to overcome Obstetric Fistula, a debilitating condition which affects one million women in Nigeria.  This is a cause that she believes will make a difference.

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