Charles B. Washington Branch went from moderately busy to bustling within minutes; 5 o’clock was approaching on a Tuesday.
I was greeted with warmth by Golden Threads Quilting Club cofounders Tara Evans and Evance Soash. Eventually I sat with Evans, the group’s ringleader. As she and I chatted about the group, a steady stream of quilters dropped by to say hello and share their progress before settling in across the hall.
At only a year old in September, the group has blossomed – and nearly outgrown its space – thanks due in part to this Omaha World-Herald article that ran in October 2012.
What originally began in a North Omaha church became Quilts 4 Seniors. The deal: A member makes a lap quilt for a senior, and in turn receives tips on how to quilt one for him or herself. The cycle repeats. “That’s the key to our organization. People come faithfully every week,” Evans said. Currently all materials are donated, and the end products are in turn donated to senior citizens experiencing illness, depression, loneliness, or just a difficult time in their lives. “We try to be diverse in our giving.”
The group offers more than the warmth of a quilt. “We provide companionship. Our mission is to connect people, the youth and the elderly, through the love of quilt making.” Evans produced a photo album. “The quilt recipients are so grateful,” she said as she flipped through the pages, studying each photo as if it was the first time she’d seen it. Her pride was palpable.
Evans chose Omaha Public Library as the group’s nexus for good reason. “People can come to the Library and not feel like they’re under any scrutiny. Also, it’s a free place.”
That evening Rosie Brooks was there; she’s been a member from the start. Each time she’s at the fabric store, she mentions the group and the Library. She intends to make quilts for her four new grandchildren.
Turns out, companionship is gained by the quilters, too. Brooks has made plenty of friends there. “They’re wonderful friends. Beautiful. You get to talking, and before you know it you’re finished with your quilt.”
Celeste Butler, a lifelong quilter, has been attending since November.
When I asked about her favorite piece, she paused; she couldn’t name just one. “Each one is special. I love them all. And sometimes it’s hard to part with them after you’ve put so much work and time and energy into them,” Butler reflected.
“The group is a very positive influence in the community. We have people from all walks of life who come in for the quilt lessons. With our society moving towards social media, everything’s done electronically. To actually sit down with your peers and keep that personal connection is unity. Men are welcome, boys are welcome; nobody’s turned away. Sewing is not a gender-based activity.
“It’s like a hidden treasure down here. It’s safe. We have people come from all over the area to Charles B. Washington Branch for this little get-together on Tuesdays.”