As you've probably already figured out, this week is a little different here on the blog! Because it's signup week for Hands2Help Comfort Quilt Challenge 2019, we are changing things up, and giving our five charities a chance to be in the spotlight. Yesterday the focus was on Jack's Basket, and today we will be hearing from Bernie Kringel about her charity, Mercyful Quilts. So without any further blathering from me, here's Bernie!
My name is Bernie and I blog over at Needle & Foot. If you haven’t come across my blog or fabric shop I would love to invite you to pop over and take a look. Let’s get to know each other!!
I am thrilled to be the host of one of the organizations that will be a recipient of some of the wonderful quilts made during Sarah’s Hands2Help event for 2019. This event has been such an amazing show of kindness and generosity each year. I am always very touched by the amount of work that Sarah puts into it. Each year our quilting community rises to the occasion making so many gorgeous quilts to bring comfort to people who need an extra hug as they go through a difficult time in life.
I would love to introduce my project to all of you. Mercyful Quilts are donated to Mercy Hospital in Sacramento, California. Mercy Hospital has a large, specialized Oncology Center and Cardiac Center as well as their Surgical ICU unit. As such, they regularly support patients who are in the process of dying. When a patient is going through the dying process, the hospital staff works diligently to provide support to both the patient and family. One way they provide personal support is to offer a handmade quilt to the family of the dying patient. When they choose one, they can wrap their loved one in it as they say goodbye to each other. After the loved one dies, the family keeps the quilt as a remembrance of the family member.
The team that comes into contact most with these patients and their families is the Palliative Care team. I had the opportunity to talk with one of the nurses who supports this team. She explained they have Comfort Carts which are used by their Palliative Care team. Two doctors, a nurse, a social worker and a chaplain make up this team.
Palliative care is defined by the World Health Organization as follows:
- provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms;
- affirms life and regards dying as a normal process;
- intends neither to hasten or postpone death;
- integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care;
- offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death;
- offers a support system to help the family cope during the patients illness and in their own bereavement;
- uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counseling, if indicated.
The Palliative Care team at Mercy Hospital are the people who decide what sorts of items would be most helpful to the families and keep the comfort carts full. These carts might contain religious items such as spiritual reading material in a variety of denominations and rosaries, flameless candles, CD players with music, scented lotions, pamphlets and information on the dying process, Mercyful quilts and some pillowcases. They also have hand casting kits available as some families want to make one to take home with them. The team works with the family and patient to provide kindness, comfort and support to make the dying process as peaceful as possible.
I am filled with admiration for the philosophy held by the Palliative Care team at Mercy. It is surely a difficult role to work in but so important. These families are often exhausted, bewildered, grieving and in need of emotional support. This team makes sure to wrap them up literally and figuratively with warmth and support.
I have asked the team if there are special requirements to be considered when making Mercyful Quilts. For the most part, they are grateful for anything made for Mercy’s families. Lap size quilts are requested. Sizes should be approximately 60” to 70” in length and width so anything close to that is great. Quilts can be backed with cotton, flannel or minky. This hospital serves adults only. Quilts made for Mercy should be appropriate for adults as far as themes or novelty fabrics used.
She also asked that if possible, we make some quilts with colors or fabrics which appeal to men. Also, if possible, it would be great to have provide patriotic quilts which would be meaningful to veterans of our country. Quilts of Valor are a special way to honor our veterans.
Please do not feel you have to be an expert quilter to do something like this. A beautiful patchwork with some charm squares (5” precut squares) is an easy quilt to make and will be loved and appreciated by the recipient. Would you like to donate a quilt to this group? If so, I am happy to facilitate that for you!
The Merriam-Webster definition of Mercy includes 'compassionate care of those in distress'. So many of us have provided quilts for compassionate reasons, to help those in need or distress. I passionately support this program at Mercy Hospital. If you feel called to support Mercy Hospital, know that your quilt will bring support, love and comfort to a family in a time when it is most needed. Do you have a quilt top that is not yet intended for anyone? Might you finish it up and mail it off? Are you planning to make one or two quilts for Hands2Help this year? Please consider donating one to Mercy Hospital. The team at Mercy Hospital estimates they use about eight quilts each month. That is a lot of quilts! So far, since I started Mercyful Quilts last fall, there have been about 40 beautiful quilts donated. I am hoping this event will provide even more quilts to this wonderful cause.
If you choose to make a Mercyful Quilt, you will actually mail the quilt to me. (Sarah will provide the address to you in a private email). I will bring them to Mercy Hospital. I provide the name and address of the quilter to the team. Letters of receipt are sent to the makers. I don’t know if these can be used for tax purposes so you would need to contact your accountant for guidance.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about the Mercyful Quilts Drive. Whichever organization you choose to make a quilt for this year is fortunate to be the recipient of your kindness and creativity.
Thanks, Bernie, for sharing more about Mercyful Quilts with us. This is such a loving way to provide comfort to a grieving family, and I know that many of this year's participants may feel a connection with this charity. Listen to that still, small voice in your head, grab some wonderful fabrics or scraps, and work on some comfort!
And if you want to know how to sign up for this year's Challenge, go to this post - the sign-up is about halfway down the post! We've already got 162 people signed up (WOW!!!) but there's plenty of room for more!