Making a Difference – One Stitch at a Time

February 19, 2014
Margo 1

Marguerite Kendall shows off her latest “busy quilt” a Southwestern style – Ole! Ole!

For people afflicted with dementia and Alzheimer’s, staying present can be a constant struggle. The mind makes it difficult to stay grounded as it propels one into the past, bringing on feelings of anxiety, depression, and anger –all while leaving an abundance of nervous energy in its wake. It was for this reason that Housecall Providers Hospice Director, Rebecca Ashling, MSN, RN, asked our volunteer department to recruit quilters who could create “busy quilts” for these hospice patients.

“I first heard about these types of quilts when I worked for another hospice and discovered what a calming influence they could have on agitated patients,” Ashling stated.

Luckily for Housecall Providers, Marguerite Kendall, mother-in-law of our board member Annette Kendall, answered the call. Marguerite, who has been sewing since the 1960’s, contributes to two local quilting guilds, Sewing Sistas in Sherwood and The Wilsonville Piecemakers. For those who are unaware of what a quilting guild is all about, creating beautiful and comfortable works of art is only part of the story. Many of them are also very involved in the community. The Wilsonville Piecemakers for example, has been providing quilts since 1990 for various organizations including local hospitals and community service organizations and groups like CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), veterans’ associations, Royal Kids Camp, women’s shelters and the group’s local fire department. 

The “busy quilts” are meant to occupy the patient’s mind with tasks like buttoning, zipping, snapping as well as providing a variety of textures in different patterns and shapes for feel and comfort. Many patterns are themed, like camping, the Southwest, cats, flowers and billiards, to evoke their imagination to past interests or hobbies.

A "busy quilt" in action.

A “busy quilt” in action.

Marguerite not only found resonance in Housecall Providers’ mission, but also discovered an exciting challenge in the project. “I learned the basics of quilt making from being part of Sewing Sistas, but learned more advanced quilting techniques from the women involved in The Wilsonville Piecemakers, she said.  “This level of skill has enabled me and other women in the guild to create the different ‘busy quilts’ for Housecall Providers.”

“We are all so appreciative of the women who have put so many thoughtful hours into making the ‘busy quilts’ for our hospice patients who are struggling with memory loss. To have a resource like this that we can offer our patients has been a great joy for our hospice nurses,” Ashling stated.

Indeed, our patients have enjoyed the comfort that the quilts have provided – perhaps sensing the care and thought that the women have put into every stitch. “It was a big boon for me to learn that there is such a need out there for quilts because when I started making them, I didn’t know anyone that needed one,” Kendall continued.

If you would like to find out more about contributing your time and talent to this project you can reach Marguerite Kendall at margo0922@yahoo.com or inquire about joining The Wilsonville Piecemakers through the Wilsonville Community Center @ 503-682-3727. You don’t need to have expert level skills to volunteer your time either. “Even sewing quilted squares together in a 1/4″ seam would further our work to help those in need,” Kendall said.

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