Quilts are often associated with important life events and are given as gifts to celebrate occasions such as marriage, the birth of a child or a family member or close friend leaving home. In Wetaskiwin, quilts will take on an added and very important role; one that is also associated with important life events, but not necessarily happy ones. Jeannie Blakely, Executive Director, Wetaskiwin and District Victim Services Society explains. “We had two wonderful ladies representing Northridge Estates Quilting Group, Sheila Bibaud and Dean Gauvreau, visit our Victim Services office this morning and present us with a huge windfall of handmade quilts. We will be giving these quilts to victims of crime and tragedy. The quilts will play a very important role with comforting the victims.”
When there is a crime or tragedy, there is a victim. The good news is that assistance is available for victims of crime or tragedy through Victim Services, a society comprised of the Wetaskiwin Municipal RCMP and Rural RCMP, in partnership with the Wetaskiwin and District Victim Services Society. Some of the services offered are crisis intervention, counseling and community agency referrals, court support , public presentations on services and crime prevention, police-liaison, family violence unit, information on prevention of re-victimization, critical incident stress management and support and mentoring for new coordinators. They (the volunteer Advocates) are well trained and there 24/7 offering a free and confidential service.”
Jeannie explains how valuable the quilts will be in supporting the work of Victim Services. “When the Quilting Group learned that Victim Services in Wetaskiwin often gives blankets to victims of crime and tragedy, they phoned and brought a beautiful selection to the Unit and donated them. The people who receive the blankets could be anyone, perhaps the victim of a fire, perhaps a lost child, perhaps a victim of more serious crime. We know that things can happen to anyone, and that along with one of our teddy bears, a blanket can bring great warmth and comfort.”
Wetaskiwin is fortunate to have a group of quilt lovers whose devoted interest in quilts will continue to pass their love for this pastime on to those who are less fortunate. Those patches of fabric, the stitches and the multitude of quilts the Northridge Estates Quilting Group presented to Victim Services are all symbolic of their friendship and love for others.
Dean Gauvreau a member of the Quilting Group explains further. “We donate the quilts because our objective is to help people in any circumstances whatever it may be. All of the fabric is donated to us, except for the batting and we purchase that when we find it on sale. We hope that the quilts will benefit anyone that receives them and to make their lives a little bit easier.”
The considerable time and effort required to make a quilt is cherished by those who are fortunate enough to be gifted with a one. They become timeless treasures of art so cherished they are handed down through generations. Modern quilts are not always intended for use as bedding, and may be used as wall hangings, table runners or decorations on couches and chairs.
A quilt is much more than a bed cover or a blanket for a chair. It is the transformation of a pile of fabric ranging from a box of scraps to expensive imported cloth, into a work of art. Quilters can often take hours, weeks, months and sometimes even years of work and devotion to complete their project. And, it’s not uncommon for them to have multiple projects in progress at the same time. Deciding on intricate designs, artistic matching of colors, searching and selecting appropriate material are all required tasks that are creatively merged to produce original works-of-art.
Jeannie Blakely closes by saying, The Northridge Estate Quilting Group used to send their handmade quilts to Camrose for people who needed them. The quilts are made from donations of fabric that come from people all round the community. Sometimes the group finishes a quilt that someone else started. Sometimes they craft the quilt from scratch. Some quilts are queen size, some are baby size, and then everything in between.
Victim Services is very pleased to have the quilts on hand. With this welcome donation we have a one-year supply ahead. We are happy to have our cupboard filled and look forward to brightening someone’s life with that extra bit of comfort. Thanks to all the ladies from Northridge Estate Quilting Group.