Over 40 years ago, Greenbush resident Regina Boese headed a group of area women to work on a project– sewing and building quilts to send out through Lutheran World Relief as part of their stewardship for missions program. Boese continued leading the group as chairman until about three years ago, when she handed over the leadership reins to Karen Stephens and Sue Halstensgard.
“We tried to carry on her tradition. We set our goal of 100 quilts and we surpassed that. We made 125 (this year),” Stephens said.
An estimated 21 women, mostly retired, ranging roughly between the ages of 60 and 86, participated in the project this year, sewing both quilts and pillowcase dresses. At Bethel Lutheran Church this year, they sewed twice a week in February and March on the quilts and for a couple weeks beginning on April 1 on the dresses, working on a volunteer basis and coming and going during these work times. Some sewers also frequently sewed from home on snowy days or weekends.
“It’s a worthwhile mission… In Minnesota in February (and) March, it’s cold. It’s stormy,” Stephens said. “We can sew at home or we can come here, and you don’t have to necessarily be a sewer because you can do other things. We need people to cut. We need people to iron, people to make coffee, people to tie quilts.”
For many years, the group sent their quilts overseas through Lutheran World Relief, but about three years ago, it started dividing the quilts amongst different people. They sent some to area homeless shelters, to fire victims, or any people experiencing some type of hardship in the area counties, and have also made some for the Bethel Lutheran high school graduates.
“We’ll give to anywhere that really need it,” Halstensgard said.
The women are giving all the dresses—amounting to over 100– to a Ugandan orphanage with up to 900 girls, a site built by a former classmate of Stephens, Renae (Gjovik) Peters and her husband.
Pastor Mark Mathews dedicated and blessed these quilts and dresses during a 10 am, Sunday, April 30 service at Bethel Lutheran Church. Following the service, the church hosted a Vintage Luncheon, including 50’s and 60’s recipes, such as fried chicken. The event, a free-will offering, helped offset the price of fabric the women bought for the projects.
“It gives a chance to all the rest of the congregation to see what’s been accomplished,” Stephens said. “With a few women over a few weeks, (they) can do quite a bit. We all have so much, I mean, to give.”
To see the complete story, read the May 3 issue of The Tribune in print or online.