Cold weather makes for good quilting

Cold weather makes for good quilting

Brian Smith
Contributing Writer

    What do you do when the weather gets cold, the sky is gray, the days are short, and freezing rain and snow are in the forecast? For a group of ladies from St. Francis DeSales Church in Ossian, the answer was obvious.

   "When the weather gets bad and we don't have any of our own work at home we need to be doing, that's when we get together and quilt. When the weather gets good again in the spring, then we stop until it gets cold again,” related Alma Hemesath, one of 11 women who volunteer their time to make quilts for those in need.

    Every Thursday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., usually starting sometime in November (or whenever the cold weather settles in for winter), you can find the St. Francis DeSales sewing ladies in the basement of Ossian Senior Hospice. There, they use their quilting expertise to make quilts for a variety of different organizations that put them to good use.

    “We donate what we make to shelters for abused women and children, shelters for the homeless, food pantries, and relief efforts for any local disasters that occur, such as house fires that leave families in need,” explained Lucy Hageman, another of the quilting volunteers.

    The group also offers the product of their service to other groups who might need a fundraiser for their organizations. The quilters are trying to help others in as many ways as they can by using the talents they have.

    In addition to Hemesath and Lucy Hageman, the group includes Joyce Hageman, Joanne Hageman, Janice Brom, Harriet Brechtel, Sharlene Rose, Mary Jo Kuennen, Dianna Einck, Mary Lou Uhlenhake, Cathy Reilly, and occaisionally other helpers not listed here. Observing the women work with their hands, move materials around the room, and chat excitedly with one another, it is easy to see that not only are they quite skilled, but they enjoy their work and the time they spend together.

    No one seems to be absolutely certain of how long the group has been in existence (some think 50 years or more), but there does seem to be a tie to a group that met in the '60s who were known as the “Red Cross Ladies.”  All seem to agree that before the group met at Ossian Senior Hospice, they were meeting in the St. Francis DeSales Convent basement. The volunteers are grateful to have the space they are being provided now in which to work.

    “Without the hospice providing us their basement to work in, it wouldn't be possible for us to do this. Having a location like this allows us to leave all of our materials in one place and not have to continually pack things up and move them around,” commented Hemesath.

    The group is also appreciative of those who donate material and time to help them complete their quilts. They receive donations from many different organizations to help them purchase batting. They also receive donations of material and bedsheets to be used for backing. Residents at the hospice join in, with the assistance of Lou Pavlovec,  to do some of the cutting of the squares. Tying of the quilts is done in the basement of the hospice, while the sewing of the squares and the finishing of the hem is completed by several members of the group in their homes. The sewing circle makes 120-150 quilts per season.

    “It really is a community project, because so many people and organizations play a role in getting everything done,” added Hageman.

     The quilters are always interested in getting even more people involved in their labor of love. If you are interested in joining the St. Francis DeSales sewing ladies or contributing to their cause in any way, please stop by Ossian Senior Hospice on any Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m. But remember, when the weather warms up the women will return to their own homes to take care of their own “to do” lists. Not to worry, though; they will be back when the snow flies again.

    While the sewing ladies of St. Francis DeSales only meet to quilt during the cold-weather months, it is certain that the good works of this dedicated group of volunteers is felt year-round by all who have benefited from their service.

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