Quilting for Veterans

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

On a brisk, fall afternoon, seven Tulalip women gathered behind the Hibulb Cultural Center, a place where they often met over the past several months. Rae Anne Gobin, Lena Jones, Sherry Dick, Benita Rosen, Edith Johnny and Sara Andres continued the annual tradition of quilting blankets for Tulalip Veterans, making this their third consecutive year honoring those who served in the military. 

Each member of the quilting bee has created one quilt for the project every year with the goal of blanketing all of Tulalip’s veterans. As they arranged their quilts for a number of photos, the quilters all shared a certain excitement with one another as they admired each other’s final product. Ooh’s and ahh’s followed by compliments about color schemes and patterns were heard as each quilter proudly showcased her work to the group. Seven beautiful red, white and blue quilts were completed after months of hard work and the quilters couldn’t wait to gift them to seven lucky local veterans at the annual Hibulb Cultural Center Veterans Day event.

“This is our third year sewing quilts, bringing a total of twenty-one quilts,” expresses Tulalip Quilter, Rae Anne Gobin. “For 2018, the Tulalip Veteran Quilt group took the challenge of sewing the Hollow Star pattern by Krista Moser, who designed, taught and long-armed the quilts. The pattern was full of Y seams that presented challenges until we began to master them. Each one of us took the time to select our fabric and put our love in each of these quilts. We hope each recipient finds the quilt comforting.”

The Tulalip Veteran Quilt Project has been funded through the Tulalip Foundation since their first year. Around this time last year, the Foundation decided to honor the ladies for their loving efforts by selecting the group as their Giving Tuesday recipients. 

“Giving Tuesday is the response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” says Tulalip Foundation Executive Director, Nicole Sieminski. “It’s an idea of giving back to the community after all of the consumerism over Thanksgiving weekend. We chose the Tulalip Veterans Quilt Project this year and raised almost $1,700, covering all of the supplies for the quilting. We love supporting community driven projects. It’s always great to see the amazing work these ladies do and it’s such a great opportunity to support our veterans.”

  The ladies presented their quilts to Veterans Ronald Burns, Peter Henry Sr., David Fryberg Sr., Cyrus Williams and Leonard James in a moving moment during the museum’s Honoring Our Veterans event on November 11. Each veteran displayed youthful exuberance, joyful smiles and tears of happiness when accepting the beautiful blankets from their makers. Everybody in attendance of the event were wowed by the patterns of the quilts and gave both the quilters and the veterans a standing ovation after the gifting. Veterans Ernest Millholland and Wesley Charles Jr. were unfortunately unable to attend the event, but the Tulalip Honor Guards will be sure they receive their quilts on behalf of the ladies. 

“We enjoy doing this work and giving back to our community, making sure our veterans are recognized for protecting us and our country,” expresses Rae Anne. “We know our veterans put their lives on hold while serving and helped protect us to keep our freedom. We care for and love our Tulalip veterans and want to honor them for their service and let them know, you are not forgotten and will always be remembered.”

Quilting for Tulalip Veterans

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Over the past two months, seven Tulalip tribal members have been hard at work crafting quilts for the Veterans of Tulalip. The members of the quilting group are Sandra Swanson, Candy Hill-Wells, Lena Jones, Sara Andres, Benita Rosen, Sherry Dick and Rae Anne Gobin. In Native America, blankets hold a significant value to many tribal communities as they are associated with honor and respect. Blankets, including quilts, are traditionally gifted at various ceremonies such as potlatches, pow wows and graduations. Tulalip quilters have used their artwork to help strengthen their community for many generations by gifting them to honor their fellow tribal members.

“Tulalip Tribes had a group of quilters that gathered at the ‘Fudge ‘n Funnies’ quilt store in Marysville until the store had a fire and closed,” explains Quilter Rae Anne Gobin. “Since then, there hasn’t been a place for quilters to gather until the Hibulb Museum was built. In 2016, I attended a Star Quilt class at the museum, taught by Edith Johnny and Tisha Mclean.  It was then, the passion for quilting sparked once again.

“Outside of making quilts for family what else could I do?” Rae Anne pondered. “I thought about my grandmother, Christina Fryberg Williams, who belonged to the women’s sewing group housed at the basement of the old dining hall called the ‘thrift shop.’ I remember hanging out with my grandmother and cherished the quilt she gave me. Then, thinking of my dad, Ralph D. Jones Jr., serving in the Korean War as a combat Veteran. Wishing I could’ve made him a quilt to honor his service, but he passed before I really had the inspiration to sew. It was then, I introduced the idea of the Tulalip Veteran Quilt project to the quilters. To honor our Veterans for their service.”

The project is currently in its second year. Last year, the ladies made their first quilts with a traditional Native American design for the Veterans. This year, the group picked the House Divided pattern. The ladies continue to gather weekly to work on their quilts in preparation for the Annual Veterans Day Service at the Hibulb Cultural Center, where the quilters will present their finished projects to the Veterans.

“I think each one of us didn’t expect the response we received from the Veterans,” states Rae Anne, recalling the 2016 Veterans Day event. “We felt really good about making those and putting our love into the quilts, but we didn’t expect to get the emotion we seen out of the Veterans who got them last year. I think after getting the first year behind us, knowing what that meant to the Veterans, we wanted to continue doing this. Our purpose is to give back to our members who served our country – thanking them sincerely for their service because we care about them. There is a heartfelt emotion, love and words we cannot even express. That saying is true – the more you give, the more you get back.”