Unification News for May 1996


Donating Baby Quilts: A WFWP-CT Project

by Veronique Ballinger-Southington, CT

Ever since I discovered the American art of quilting four years ago, I have not stopped learning about and developing it. First I made quilts for my own children, relatives and friends. When I became the vice president of WFWP in Connecticut, I initiated the "Praying Hands" project in 1993. We completed seven quilted wall hangings of praying hands that were donated to churches in three major cities for Christmas.

In 1994 heather Thalheimer, our regional Women's Federation chairwoman, asked me to design and make a large quilt. After several quilting bees with women from all New England, the "Star of Hope" quilt was completed in January 1995, based on the famous Ohio Star pattern and later on donated to In Jin Nim on behalf of our New England WFWP.

Quilting is not just a simple sewing art; it was a big part of the building of America. The struggle and joy of the founders and pioneers of this great nation can be discovered on those old and antique quilts.

I came to this country in 1980 from France, and in 1994 I became a U.S. citizen. I recall the day that I was in Hartford at the Justice Building waiting to receive my citizenship. I had a little time, so I went across the street to an old cemetery. It was so peaceful and contrasted strangely with the noisy downtown area. I had a great feeling as I thought about those first pioneers who with Rev. Thomas Hooker came braving everything to settle the state of Connecticut. I though how much the quilt and its history had brought me so much closer to those great people.

In 1995 the president of WFWP in Connecticut moved to Washington, D.C. I was appointed to be the next WFWP president here. I felt that based on all the words of our founder, Mrs. Moon, and the affirmations of our organization, there was nothing else to do but put the words into action.

After we finished the large quilt the desire to do the "Baby Quilt Project" (an idea which had come to me a year before) became very strong. We officially started our project to make 50 quilts over the next winter. We were determined to complete at least 30 by Christmas for children with special needs. We held several small quilting bees around the state, but this time I was not on my own. Debby Sand, a woman I had met at one of our quilting bees earlier in the year, became my biggest source of support. It is enough sometimes to have just one person who is there with you all the time. Though sometimes you can get discouraged, it is usually not at the same time. But it was not without challenge that this project was finally completed.

In the meantime, a neighbor of mine who likes quilting was find enough to put a message on the Internet under a quilting file. Later on I received a box of fabric donated from a woman in California who wanted to help. A group of Quakers which my friend Debby belongs to donated money for us to buy the batting for our quilts (the middle part of the quilt made of polyester). Other women contributed time to help with the project as well.

We were able to bring 30 hand-made quilts to Newington Children's Hospital, an internationally known children's medical center, just in time for Christmas. It was a very stormy day and snow was coming down heavily, but Debby has four-wheel-drive on her car, so we just went on with our schedule. Together with the 30 quilts we gave a lot of information about our WFWP organization. The vice president of the hospital was there to receive us, and everyone was so amazed and touched by our quilts. They had a photographer come and take pictures of us. That afternoon, my husband wrote a press release which we sent to the daily newspapers in our state, accompanied by a WFWP brochure and a photograph. Three newspapers covered our story: the New Britain Herald, Meriden Record-Journal and Bristol Press. The Record-Journal sent two reporters to my house, and the other papers received several phone calls from women wanting to donate fabric or become involved with WFWP.

Later on, we donated another 21 quilts (one of them made by a Quaker). For a while, I could not go anywhere in town without having someone recognize me from the newspaper.

Our plan is to establish this tradition in Connecticut. That is, we want to bring a minimum of 50 quilts each year to the children's hospital from WFWP. (Each quilt has a WFWP tag showing that we made it.) The hospital was very pleased, which made us feel good.

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