Saturday, March 1, 2014

Full Circle

Once upon a Fall afternoon in 2008 I wandered into my Pastor's office and declared, "I have a project I want to take on, but need accountability. Can you help me?" 

That moment began my relationship with the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative ( and my promise to make them enough small format (9 by 12 inches or smaller) quilts to raise $1000 for Alzheimer's research. My pastor's role was to provide a small piece of wall space upon which I would place the quilts each month and she would help me name them. 

Over the next five years I made 30 little quilts included these and earned $1250. for the cause. I also dedicated my 40th birthday party to AAQI (and my church's Camp Fowler and doubled the amount above. It was a perfect union of my ability to be creative,  to FINISH something, as well as the goal of fulfilling my promise to the organization. A perfect storm which kicked off a full-circle moment that came to conclusion this week.


Simultaneously as my little work and contribution, Ami Simms and the team at AAQI had monthly auctions, continual online sales and the following traveling quilt exhibit to raise funds and awareness about Alzheimer's disease.
"Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope" was a traveling quilt exhibit about Alzheimer's. It was exhibited at venues throughout the United States through September 2013.

The exhibit featured 236 quilts. Long, narrow "Name Quilts" were made from 55 purple patches, each marked with the name of a person who has/had Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia.

The "wrong" side of the fabric patches are showing. The color looks faded. The bright side of the cloth, full of the color and pattern of life, has been turned to the inside of the quilt, never to be seen again.

The Name Quilts created a wall more than 10,000 names, representing and honoring the 5.4 million people in the United States who have this horrid disease.

Hanging among the Name Quilts were 54 small format art quilts that tell the story of Alzheimer's from a variety of perspectives.

In the last minutes of the AAQI project which is now officially retired as they raised over $1.1 Million for Alzheimer's research projects, I purchased three of these Name Quilts. There is a label on the back of each saying who collected the names, where and who quilted it.
Here are some detail photos.

The full circle moment came when I made two of these long quilts into stoles as thank you gifts for my pastors. Jan and Craig Hoffman are a husband and wife ministry team. They have served our church, The First Reformed Church of Scotia, New York, for 20 years and this week marks the beginning of their next 20 years with us. Pastor Jan was my support through this project and knows Alzheimer's disease intimately through the suffering of family and of church members.

This gift provided closure for me of a long time commitment and passion, as well as a tribute to all those who know Alzheimer's as victims or caregivers.

Pastor Craig reminded us that "even when we do not know who the names are (on the strips of fabric), or even when we can't remember our own name, God knows and names us His Own." 
For that, I am thankful.