We were honored to hear directly from representatives of several local charity organizations how our WE MAKE AN IMPACT on the local community. (Before you read to the end of this post, grab a tissue!) At the end of the presentations, our Guild membership agreed to continue supporting each of these great organizations in their work!
Executive Director Meredith spoke about how her organization has evolved since 1976, when it began as a “crisis line” phone chain. (At that time, people had to sit by a corded telephone and wait for people to call in!). Their work as a Children’s Advocacy Center started in 1996. In 2018, the outreach of her office expanded to include Caswell County. Currently, there are several ministries to women and children being administered through the office at 1206 Vaughn Road in Burlington.
BCQ’s member point-of-contact with CrossRoads is Amy, who “always” has a stack of quilts in the back of her car to deliver. Meredith noted that, thanks to Amy, CrossRoads has never run out of quilts to give! So, keep sewing! According to our December newsletter, we donated 82 quilts to CrossRoads in 2021.
Meredith relayed some stories that showed specifically how our donations have helped her staff comfort the children they serve. Her office currently ministers to 350 children per year. In 2021, 160 children were brought to the CrossRoads office for a medical examination, as victims of physical or sexual abuse. The first step in the process is for the child to pick out one of our donated quilts! Many of the children are accustomed to wearing second-hand clothes and having few belongings of their own, so they are thrilled to receive something brand new that was “made just for them.” The child cuddles in the “security blanket” before and after the doctor’s examination. It is obvious to Meredith and her staff that starting the stressful experience in that manner provides comfort to the children. (If not for the CrossRoads ministry, these victims of abuse would be enduring their interviews and exams at a police station.). Depending on their situation, the child might need to return to CrossRoads for counseling, etc.; and partially thanks to our quilts, the CrossRoads office has become a welcoming and friendly place that they do not fear returning to. She mentioned one boy who brings his “blanket” with him for each return visit. Meredith summarized her presentation by saying “They come in as victims, and leave as survivors.”
Carolina Adoption Services (CAS)
Sara Nolette is the coordinator for the CHOICES program (the domestic adoption program at at CAS), which complements their international adoption program. This is Sara’s third year, but Carolina Adoption Services has been “facilitating homecomings” for 28 years, and has served 5000 families in NC, SC, VA and beyond! The CAC office is located at 630 N. Elm Street in Greensboro. [Note: BCQ’s member “contact person” to CAS is now our co-president, Mary.]
Members of our guild have made small “Welcome Home” quilts for the past several years to commemorate adoptions of young children from eight countries. We delivered 17 of these “mini quilts” in 2021. These gifts are traditionally presented to the families at an annual picnic. While small, the quilts are a very personal memento, including the child’s name, birthday, and (on the label) a flag of the country of their birth. Sara told a story from the point of view of a child who has lived in an orphanage all her life, now moving to a strange country and learning how to recognize and accept the love of a new family and community. The mini quilts are a symbol for the love and permanence of a “forever” family. They are cherished and hung in a place of honor in the child’s new home.
Because of the pandemic, demand for adoption services has been evolving, and CAC has recently been approved as a “Foster to Adopt” agency, where needs are great. In response to a member’s question about “What size quilts are needed?”, the idea was put forward that perhaps the quilts needed now should be “snuggle sized” or bed-sized, since the foster-to-adopt children are generally older. Sara will get back with our BCQ contact person (Mary) with more details about this year’s needs.
Sparkle Cat Rescue
Founder and Executive Director, Stephanie, shared with us the work of Sparkle Cat Rescue, the magnitude of which was hard to believe. In 2020, her team had rescued 343 cats and placed 307 of them in permanent homes! In 2021, the totals were 140 cats rescued and 137 of them placed. They still have 30 to 40 cats being temporarily nurtured by foster (human) families. Over the 7 years of her work, they have logged 1400 rescues, mostly from feral cat colonies in the Alamance and Guilford County area (approx. 50 miles radius). They don’t generally take cats from animal shelters, but instead identify large groups of homeless, hungry, and often diseased animals and go through the intense and expensive process of trying to civilize the kittens as house pets. Her goal is to work with 2 feral colonies per year. This past year, their focus has been on a group in Seagrove.
Vet bills add up to $200 per cat, so a large part of Stephanie’s job is fund raising. Social Media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are the main ways she identifies potential adoptive families for her cats. Stephanie also has a need for foster families to nurture cats that take longer to be adopted, like tabbies. There are 30 to 50 cats in the foster program.
Sparkle Cat Rescue’s office is now located in a multi-purpose building. (She is keeping the address under her hat, for now, to discourage people from dropping off cats there for her care.) Besides space for her office, the building houses fundraising events, a “meet and greet” room (where she screens prospective families), and a room or two that house cats (cage free). In case you were wondering… yes, her facility is inspected regularly by the Department of Agriculture.
How do our “cat pillows” help with meeting the financial needs of Sparkle Cat Rescue? Stephanie has a couple of online fundraisers per year, where they pair our cat pillows with her handmade catnip toys. Two local craft shoppes carry our pillows as regular inventory. Find them at Impulsive Creativity at 107 W. Clay Street in Mebane, and The Mainline at 134 N. Main Street in Graham. According to the January BCQ newsletter, we made 136 pillows in 2021 from our scraps!
Ryan’s Cases for Smiles
Catherine is BCQ’s member point-of-contact for this organization – which is dedicated to “helping kids feel better to heal better.” On Catherine’s behalf, Gail vH. read aloud a page from the promotional literature provided. Note that according to our December newsletter, we donated 201 pillowcases during 2021!
Ryan’s Cases for Smiles began when Ryan’s mother started making pillowcases from cheerful, colorful fabrics for her son to take with him on his regular hospital visits. He was treated for cancer for 5 years, starting at age 12. Care-givers noted that both parents and their children with cancer can suffer PTSD from the procedures that accompany their cancer treatments. Smiles can make a huge difference in how well their experiences are handled long-term. Officially organized in 2007, this organization has grown to over 120 chapters, and more than 350 hospitals participate in the distribution of donations. Over their history, over 2 million pillowcases have helped children avoid PTSD from their cancer-related experiences. Four chapters are headquartered in North Carolina cities – Asheville, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Raleigh. The Raleigh office receives our donations (via Catherine). The four NC chapters distribute thousands of “cases for smiles” each year.
Alamance Pregnancy Services – A division of Piedmont Rescue Mission
Unfortunately, the organization’s representative was unable to attend our in-person meeting this month, but we plan to continue making quilts to support needy families with infants and children under 4 years old. According to our December newsletter, BCQ donated 27 quilts to this worthy cause last year. Amy is BCQ’s point of contact with Alamance Pregnancy Services. Please continue making quilts for babies and small children. APS serves approximately 200 women annually.