Quilts of Hope

Quilts Of HopeMore than 70 volunteers spent an entire week quilting together messages of love, hope, beauty and encouragement last week.

The quilters helped piece together more than 800 notes written on fabric by visitors to the Tidewater Builders Associations Homearama at The Riverfront community in northern Suffolk last year. The opportunity was available at the Get Pink with Sentara Breast Cancer Awareness House.

The work was completed this week at Nancys Calico Patch in Newport News. The project resonated with owner Nancy Gloss, who was diagnosed with breast cancer just a few weeks after the Homearama event.

Ive been in business 25 years, and this is the most personal quilting has been for me, she said at a thank-you event for volunteers.

Gloss had thrown her support behind the project long before she knew she had cancer. Its a good cause, she said. The quilting industry supports breast cancer, because its a womens industry. It was an easy charity to pick and also one that has touched a lot of people.

But she did not know it would touch her personally until a few weeks after Homearama ended, when she went for her regular mammogram. A week later, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. She had a mastectomy in January and is undergoing chemotherapy.

Meanwhile, her staff, customers, old friends and new friends have rallied around her, she said.

It was a similar experience for Carol Vieira when she was diagnosed with breast cancer 14 years ago. New to the area, she wanted to find a way to give back, so she volunteered to help quilt the squares together.

It was a joy, she said. Pure joy, just to give someone else some comfort.

A total of 21 quilts were created from the handwritten messages. They will be given to Sentara to hang in its cancer treatment centersand to use for awareness events.

Everybody can use something thats uplifting, said Rose West, a spokeswoman for Sentara who attended Saturdays event.

Many of the notes are universal messages of encouragement and hope, such as Stay strong, Always have faith and Love and lemonade. Some are more personal, with the writer telling her own story Survivor of 19 years or writing a note to a friend battling the disease.

They are surrounded by rectangles in shades of pink and prints that are mostly pink, the universal color of breast cancer awareness.

Gloss said the project was truly a community effort.

Even people who didnt quilt can be a part of it, she said. They could sign it, they could iron it, they could cut.

We had lots and lots of great participation this week, agreed Judy Pendley, an employee at Nancys Calico Patch. (The volunteers) came to work.

Also raising awareness of cancer and support for survivors, the American Cancer Societys Relay for Life will be held in Suffolk on May 18-19 at Bennetts Creek Park. For more information, visit www.suffolkrockinrelay.org.

This Article by Tracy Agnew was Published in the Suffolk News Herald on Saturday, March 24, 2012