This weeks Spotlight Sunday takes us out to Southern California... to ....Barbara Winkler!!! Barb is one of the forces behind http://socalQOV.org and is she a force to be reckoned with!!
This is Barb presenting one of the QOV's she has made, during a welcome home at the Sepulveda VA
This is her filling out a label - with one of the right hand quilters in the background - Helga.
So lets get to the interview!!
Tell me how you got started?
I was searching the internet for something back in about 2005, and read about a mystery quilt…hadn’t heard of that, so checked it out. Turned out to be for QOVF. I had lots of fabric on hand, so thought why not give back to our Veterans.
How many people have you recruited?
LOTS. My main group in the greater Long Beach area has about a dozen regulars, and then we have people who either sew at home, or participate on occasion. We have done block drives that have gotten people from all over the USA to contribute. We have groups in San Diego, Apple Valley/Victorville and now Upland, CA.
Where do you present your quilts?
We deliver quilts to Long Beach VA, West LA VA, Sepulveda VA. Sometimes we are invited to attend an event to distribute quilts. Last August, we presented 12 quilts to brain-injured Vets. In December, we attended a Veterans Tribute in Victorville where the Vets were allowed to choose a Quilt of Valor from over 100 quilts.
We also fill requests submitted through the QOVF website. So, recently we have sent quilts to a Marine in Iraq, a Navy Corpsman in Afghanistan, a couple of quilts in the San Diego area, and our latest quilt is for a Tuskeegee Airman to be presented on 3/4/12.
How many have you presented now?
In 2009 we presented 366 (one a day and one for good measure), 2010 we did 460 and last year we did 510! We number our quilts as they are assembled and we are over 1810!
When do you have sew days?
We sew each Thurs from 1-5 at SewVac at 1762 Clark Ave, Long Beach. We also do special sew days at various fabric stores or the American Legion. Our next workshop will be at Moore’s Sewing in Huntington Beach. We have participated in Make a Difference Day each Oct. And last year was our first event for Big Sunday in May. We are working on a location for that now. Our sew days/workshops are always open to the public. The more, the merrier. And, many hands make light work. The more people who help do something on a given quilt, the more love that is in it.
Maybe tell a little about the high school kids that you have gotten involved.?
We are authorized through the Long Beach Unified School District to give Service Learning hours. Each school counselor has our flyers and the students can attend any of our events and learn to sew, iron, whatever needs doing. On Sat, Jan 28, we had a sew day at Lakewood High School where we had about 50 volunteers—both students and adults. We had pieced blocks ready for them to assemble into over 30 quilt tops. Now our job is to prepare backs and get long-arm quilters lined up!
I think the scope of your groups is a lot bigger than many of us imagine, tell us a little about that.
We have had Time Warner cable come do a story on us. I was featured on CNN at the San Diego Quilt Show a couple of years ago. Jan 2011, we had NBC feature us on Heroes at Home segment. We have had a few articles written about us. The most recent was on the front page of the West LA VA Newsletter—and on their Facebook page. www.losangeles.va.gov
Are you the coordinator for Southern CA? Self-appointed-yes
What your goals are for this year?
To get some sponsors to cover shipping cost, printing, etc. AND organize the fabric stash. Need to figure out how to control the damages when we have this volume going through the studio!
What is one thing that has impressed you the most in your Quilts of Valor experience?
I think the Vietnam Vets are the most appreciative—they were never thanked. We had one who wrote to tell us he had held a grudge for 40 years, and now with his quilt he could let it go. (Waterworks and goosebumps are starting again!—how can that happen again?)
Barb!! Thank you so much for taking time to answer our questions. I know you have been super busy, and heard that you really had a great time at Road 2 CA. Thank you!!