Quilts of Many Colors Donated By Senior to Charities All Over the World
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Posted by: Amanda Wiedenfeld
Jean Ferris spends her free time making quilts of many colors in the second bedroom of her home at Buckner Villas, a senior living community in North Austin. She picked up quilting in her retirement 20 years ago when she and her husband were traveling by motor home across the United States. She’s made several hundred quilts since then, and donated them to a variety of charities served by churches she’s attended. Currently, she makes the quilts for World Relief and Austin LifeCare. For more than 70 years, World Relief has partnered with churches, communities and governments to bring sustainable change to vulnerable communities around the world. Austin LifeCare has been serving the Austin area for over 30 years, meeting the needs of women, men and families facing an unplanned pregnancy. Jean’s quilts are literally meeting the needs of people all over the world.
“These are charities served by the church I attend, and I am eager to help in any way that I am able,” said Ferris. “I get great joy from using my gifts to make a difference in the lives of others, no matter how big or small that act of kindness is. We try to donate at least 60 quilts to World Relief each winter. Once we are done making the quilts, we put them on display on the back of pews on Palm Sunday to show everyone our progress. Then we box them and ship them overseas. It’s extremely inspiring. We also collect school bags, stuffed animals and pillowcase dresses for the girls. When I was living in Arizona and Montana, we made more than 30 quilts each season for local charities, such as the women’s center. The children would take the quilts with them when they departed, and for many this was the only belonging they had when they left the center. I sew on my own time now, instead of in groups, but it still feels good to make a difference.”
Ferris is a caregiver to her husband, who requires around-the-clock assistance. Quilting in her free time allows her an opportunity to relax, get creative, give back and keep her hands busy. She loves the feeling of accomplishing something that will benefit someone else. Many of her materials are donated – either fabric people never used or scraps they don’t need. Ferris puts a lot of thought into the quilts she makes, even if they are made of scraps. She has a machine that stitches hearts into the fabrics, and if the scraps are too diverse, she’ll go to the store to get other fabrics to tie it together. Currently, she is working on a quilt that will be covered in teddy bears. She spends about 12 to 14 hours a week making these quilts.
“I sew all these quilts on my Singer sewing machine that I got in 1965,” said Ferris. “It’s hard to believe I’ve been sewing on that machine for 51 years! I have sewed many things in my lifetime, not just quilts. I used to make clothes for my children, hem my husband’s pants, sew clothes for my daughter’s dolls, mend things, tighten them, loosen them, you name it. Sewing is so handy. The ability to sew is a lost art, and I don’t understand how people can live without knowing how to sew or live without a sewing machine. The times have certainly changed, but I’m happy to continue doing what I love for people who need some extra love in their lives. It warms my heart.”
“March 18 is National Quilting Day, and we are happy to celebrate this day with Jean,” said Janet Burnett, life enrichment coordinator for Buckner Villas. “She makes such a positive difference in the lives of others. Many of the other residents here support her efforts and donate fabric to her cause. She makes quilts for herself and her family as well. We were fortunate to have a couple of her quilts on display during our recent Inspire Your Heart with Art showcase in January. Her quilts of many colors are touching lives all over the world and we are delighted to support her.”
Source: Lauren Witt/Amy Jones, The Point Group