Jan Martin, a VA nurse, and wife and daughter of military veterans, enjoys being part of an organization dedicated to showing appreciation to military servicemen and women.
Martin, an avid quilter, started the Mid-Missouri Quilts of Valor chapter with fellow VA nurse Laura DeVenney in 2009 after reading about the organization in quilting newsletters. Satin Stitches Sewing and Embroidery owner Gail Marcy was quick to jump on board, allowing the group to meet at her store.
Offering a tangible, comforting, “thank you”, the group’s 35 members have lovingly stitched more than 500 quilts for area veterans.
“It’s so meaningful. Our very first one we did was for a 19-year-old who had been in Afghanistan,” Martin said, noting she wasn’t sure at first if a young man that age would even want a quilt.
“He cried, and he packed it up and took it back to Afghanistan with him,” she said.
Martin said that level of appreciation from the veterans is pretty typical. So much so that many of those who have received a quilt nominate another veteran to receive one. Recipients are also nominated by family members and friends.
Quilts of Valor is a not-for-profit organization, with members and supporters donating everything from money to materials. The quilters meet at Satin Stitches on the first Tuesday of every month, with members coming and going throughout the day working on their projects, helping one another and visiting.
The group hosts ceremonies on Veterans Day and again in the spring to give local veterans their quilts. They have also presented in veterans’ homes, at the VA hospital, the local McDonald’s where a group of Vietnam veterans meets every morning for coffee, “pretty much anywhere that is requested by the veteran.”
Margie Anderson, who has been involved with Quilts of Valor for five years, joined after her father, a World War II veteran, received a quilt.
“He was so proud of it. I decided once I retired it was a group I wanted to get involved with,” Anderson said. “I like just knowing that it’s going to our veterans and feeling like I can do something for them, and it’s a good group of ladies too.”
Mary Whaley, another VA nurse who joined the group just a few months ago, said she wanted to get involved because it was another way for her to serve the veterans she spent her career caring for.
“They’re part of you, you want to do as much as you can for them,” she said.
Teri Haney, who joined the group three years ago, got after she saw a sign during one of her classes.
“I felt like it was a small way I could still say thank you,” Haney said. “You can laugh and enjoy yourself, and they’re willing to show you what to do — they don’t make you feel like a little kid in school.”
For more information about Mid-Missouri Quilts of Valor, the group has a Facebook page, or contact Martin at 573-268-1497.