Sheila (name has been changed) arrived at the Bridgeway Women’s Center in the middle of the night. She had only her young child with her and the clothes on their backs. As a victim of abuse, she needed a safe place for the night, and maybe for longer. She was shaking with cold and fear.
Then someone handed her a soft homemade quilt. A smaller brightly colored one was snuggled around her child. Suddenly they both knew that things were going to be alright.
The Bridgeway Women’s Center in St. Charles is an emergency safe house for battered and abused women and children. Many who arrive there have escaped very dangerous abusive environments. They come with very little to their name, only what they were able to grab as they flee for safety. While there, they receive the tools they need to become more successful in a safe environment. And they receive a quilt.
Cathy Sandy of the Bridgeway Women’s Center in St. Charles explained that the center and its sister center in Lincoln County receive nearly 600 individuals each year. “We like to provide a quilt or blanket of their very own, even the children. It is a way of saying there is hope in the future,” said Sandy. “When they leave our center, they take their quilt with them. It is theirs to keep. So we are always needing more. We often run low.”
So the call went out.
From Troy to Florissant, and everywhere in between, over 120 quilters and friends gathered to assemble dozens of quilts as a way to send a message of love – women serving women and reaching out to those in critical situations.
On Saturday, Sept. 29, more than 200 women from four counties came together for a night of quilting, food and instruction at the Hazelwood chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as part of their annual Women’s Conference.
The event was organized by Janet Rice, president of the Relief Society (the Latter-day Saint women’s organization) for congregations in North County, St. Charles County and parts of Warren and Lincoln Counties. She was assisted by her two counselors and secretary. Diana Taylor, 1st counselor, and Leslie Blanchard, quilter chairwoman, took key roles in planning the event.
“The goal was to help fellow sisters in need,” said Taylor. “While we had finished 22 quilts, we have a commitment to provide 5-10 quilts per month for 12 months. A total of 150 quilts will be donated by next year this time.”
People from throughout the community joined in the cause. Leslie Blanchard said many quilters in the community heard about the project and wanted to help. “Everybody dug deep and donated quilt tops they weren’t going to use,” said Blanchard. “Other people donated needles or fleece, and offered to help bind the quilts. It was all about the community coming together to help the Women’s Centers.”
Sandy attended the conference as recipient of many of the home-made quilts and was thrilled with the service being offered. “The women who come to us usually arrive with very little to their name. Having a loving home-made quilt to wrap around their shoulders helps bring comfort and peace of mind,” said Sandy. The quilts will be shared between several women’s shelters.
Most of the quilt tops were made ahead of time by members of local Relief Society groups and brought to the conference for others to tie them together. Many had never tied a quilt before.
Others were long time quilters. Mary Lou Cowan of Warrenton has been a member of a local quilters group for many years. The Perky Piecers quilting group has 25 members, most of whom are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and have been using the Warrenton LDS chapel for their monthly quilting meeting for nearly 7 years. When members of the quilters group heard about the church’s project, they wanted to help out too.
“They just wanted to be a part of it from the very beginning,” said Cowan. “They made 19 baby quilts for women’s centers. It’s a way for women to help women,” said Cowan. “It just feels right to reach out to those who have such critical needs.”
Those with these kinds of critical needs can find a safe place, and a warm quilt, waiting for them at the Bridgeway Women’s Center. If you or someone you know needs help, please call Bridgeway Women’s Center at 1-877-946-6854.