Thursday, 14 February 2013

Address to Drummoyne Rotary

Our Intrepid Leader Darleen, went to a Rotary dinner on Wednesday with 2IC Jill. 

Darleen gave a speech to the Rotarians to tell them a bit about what we do.  Here are some snippets of her talk:
Over the past ten years many of our quilts have been donated to local groups and organizations for their fundraising activities. Their auctions and raffles have raised thousands of dollars and we are very happy about that aspect of our quilt making activities.

During this time also, and importantly, hundreds of quilts have been donated for personal use in the community.

At the end of last year we handed over 44 quilts to Concord Meals on Wheels for distribution.

We were told by one of the Meals on Wheels organizers that they tried their best to match up quilts with the recipients.  One dear old fellow loved to garden so he got a flowery quilt (which we had thought a lady might like) and he was thrilled.  One dear old lady loves the colour purple. She wears purple and has a purple front fence. The ladies, again searched through the pile of quilts and, thank goodness, they found a totally purple quilt and we were told she was "tickled pink". We laughed at that one.

We are now just ready to hand over forty quilts to Drummoyne Meals on Wheels.

And this is where we have to thank Drummoyne Rotary and Canada Bay Council for supporting our group in our work and also Concord RSL for last year's grant.

Our ladies wouldn't accomplish as much as they do without the support and understanding of their husbands.  All our menfolk are keen supporters of our activities. We also keep out of their hair. They have been known to lump bundles of quilts from place to place.  They don't complain when there is material from end of the house to the other and the never ending pieces of cotton and pins on the floor.  Sometimes, they don't even complain when dinner is late and, sometimes, one or two have been known to cook a meal while the machines keep turning.

Now, what is immensely touching for us are the notes and cards of thanks we receive from the Meals and Wheels recipients and other elderly folk.  We know a lot of people are alone and lonely in our community SO the thought that the simple act of giving one of our quilts makes a difference, is really important to us.  We recently received a card from an elderly recipient which read:
'What a lovely surprise I received when Meals on Wheels delivered not only my meals, but a beautiful quilt. It is really lovely and you ladies must have spent a lot of time sewing it. Thank you very much.  The quilt has made me feel very special and I will always value it and take good care of it.'

All the messages we receive mention the word 'love'.  The word 'love' says so much and means so much doesn't it?  For our group to receive such heartfelt messages especially from young people who sometims are struggling so hard with day to day life, makes us grateful that we are able to do what we do.

As long as 'love' is felt by quilt recipients then our ladies will keep right on sewing.
We meet and work at Concord Senior Citizens Centre - on our sewing days we seem to have every table in use and most of the floor too, for spreading out our quilts to admire and to decide who should receive them.

We have been given access to a number of large cupboards for storage of our materials and machines but we always seem to need more!  So now, we have all the space under the stage as well, with more cupboard space on the way.  Canada Bay Council and the Senior Citizens Organization take good care of our group and our needs.

Getting down on our hands and knees and disappearing under the stage into its depths to drag out our large boxes of materials was a hoot and we were worried we were going to lose someone for ever, until one of our husbands came to our rescue with  long broom handle with a big hook on the end and now we manage well without disappearing from sight.

I would like to mention here that at your 2009 Rotary Art and Quilt Show we met a sweet young Japanese lass, Noriko. She wanted to know how to make a quilt and we invited her to visit one of our sewing days. She enjoyed her day and sewed busily, We gave her a quilt to take home to Japan.

Jill, Noriko, Darleen, Dasha, Cheryl, Colleen, Shirley & Rema

On her recent return to work in Australia, teaching Japanese, she sent to us a lovely bundle of materials which we will incorporate into a special quit.

Now, I'll take this opportunity to give you a little insight into just who are the Stitching Hearts Ladies.
As you can imagine, our fortnightly gatherings are full of chatter and laughter and the sharing of most importanbt information.  I often study my friends' faces and I marvel at the wealth of life's experiences so apparent - and I am grateful for their friendships, their willingness and their kindness. They are all treasures.
Well at our last gathering, amidst all the usual chat, I rather foolishly, wondered what our total ages might be - then, after a bit of finger tapping, I worked out the the total age of our fifteen ladies was 926 years (give or take a year here and there).

Then someone asked what I was doing and again (even more foolishly) I told them.  Well, as you can imagine, my response was greeted with howls of protest.

The ladies weren't very happy with that bit of information at all.

"BUT, it's true" - I tried to defend myself and my well known, rather shaky maths ability. (I might add here that they never let me measure or cut materials by myself)

Someone said instantly that I couldn't add up properly even if I tried.  Another whipped our her calculator and found that I was nearly correct.  Then yet another said that something had to be wrong with the calculator !!!

I was in a 'no win' situation.

After all the laughter had  calmed down a bit and I promised to never mention their ages again (until now that is and I know you dear Rotarians wont tell them) I asked each to speak a little about their lives before retirement and I might add here that nearly all said that their lives were much busier now.

SO in a nutshell -

Among our fifteen ladies we have:
Two nurses, one in palliative care in various contries with her doctor husband.
Two librarians
An IT expert and company owner (who is now setting up our website for us)
A pharmacist
A handful of the very necessary secretaries including medical and legal
A service station owner
A TV production company owner
A chef who ran her own restaurant
A successful mustard maker, her products sold and enjoyed widely
We have a couple of JPs and an OAM recipient
We have a professional tennis coach who, with her husband, coached around the world.

Their pursuits are many - keen swimmers, tennis players, golf players netball players, theatre goers, walkers and dancers as well as baby sitters.

They are intrepid travellers
They are cancer survivors

One of our most efficient and productive ladies is deaf and blind in one eye from cancer and she sews like a dream.

They are the mothers of 41 children and grandmothers to 9 and counting.
They are the mothers of disabled children and they have suffered the loss of children.

Their experiences through family life are abundantly plentiful.

Some are still caring for their elderly parents, as well as their own families. Our ladies volunteer in many other areas in the community such as Meals on Wheels, library book delivering, driving, gardening and family history.

All in all  they possess the kindest of hearts and they don't hesitate to share their time and their abilities.  And if there is something they don't know, they will find out, and they will let you know.




That was the end of the talk given by Darleen. 

At the conclusion of the talk, Darleen and Jill show the Rotarians a number of the quilts we had made recently.  This was followed by a presentation of a grant from the Rotary Club of Drummoyne to the group.  This grant will be used to purchase a number of essential items for the group.  Most of our fabrics are donated by the community, but the most expensive item, and one which is essential to every quilt we need to purchase - wadding.  So the grant is most welcome.

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