It was another day working in my sewing room on another Quilt of Valor when the phone rings: "Hello". "Mrs. S? This is Hugo G. calling to Thank you for your recent donation to the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes." He is enthusiastic and friendly and we begin to chat and I learn that he has been in Iraq and served in the Army and is now legally blind from an injury incurred there. The Coalition helped him and his wife meet some bills while he is rehabbing and adjusting to a new way of living with impaired sight.
As we were chatting about his time 'in country' the most poignant thing he said to me was how they were friendly with the Iraqi people, but you could never be sure that “'the hand that squeezed your hand during the day would not be the hand that squeezed the trigger in the night". This really brought home to me the stress of living in a war zone.
Finally, I remembered our QOV mission and asked him if he had received a Quilt of Valor. He said 'no' and I briefly explained what they were and their mission. He seemed to understand and appreciate how important they were right off the bat. He said that if he were to receive one he would treasure it for the rest of his life. So I assured him we would see that he received one either by me mailing one or someone near him would bring him one. He gave me his contact information and I reluctantly hung up from our chat.
Next up: get on the internet and reach out to our community to see if I could find someone in his area who would present a Quilt of Valor , the BEST way, of course. Almost immediately, Jeff Thorne, Alycia Carmin , Susan Gordon and Lori Kutch all responded with possible contacts. I'm not sure which lead put me in touch with the ladies who actually made the presentation , Stormy and Kathy, but suffice it to say, that one way or another, QOV's will be presented.
When I spoke with Kathy, she was happy to get in touch with Hugo and work out the details of the presentation. She even had a quilt ready to go, which saved me the shipping charges of sending to Florida from Pennsylvania. So now I will pass the story on to Kathy:
After receiving Hugo's contact information from Jo, I discussed this presentation with Stormy Schevis, who was my QOV co-chair last year in the Gold Coast Quilters Guild (Boca Raton, Florida). She was as excited as I was about meeting this veteran and presenting a quilt to him. With all of our busy schedules, it took a few weeks to coordinate a date that worked for all of us.
On Tuesday, March 13, Stormy and I met at Hugo's house, and together we met him, his wife, and their three beautiful daughters. We spent a few minutes getting acquainted, and then as Stormy and I made the presentation, Hugo translated word for word to his wife. It was a touching moment for all when Hugo accepted his quilt and thanked us. We then took photos of the family together, admiring their quilt. Hugo made it clear that he understood our mission, and the purpose of the quilt, when he said, "Just as it was a sacrifice for me to be deployed, it was also a sacrifice for my family. This quilt will help all of us in healing."
This was such a rewarding experience for me and Stormy. We are grateful to have been given the opportunity to present a QOV. Making a quilt is rewarding, but to present one to a veteran was so special.
Submission by: Jo Stauffer, Pennsylvania and Kathy Cochrane, Florida