A covering of love: Nancy donates dignity quilts to her community
Creating with care
“I’m learning to care for myself,” explained Nancy. “I’ve been taking care of others for most of my life. But now that I have time for myself, I’m noticing that I’ve always been creating.” And Nancy’s favorite project to pour her heart into? Quilts.
After her husband passed away, Nancy moved to Havenwood of Burnsville. When Chaplain Karl stopped by to introduce himself, he noticed handmade quilts, blankets, and décor in Nancy’s apartment. He started thinking and came back with a question for Nancy. “Will you make dignity quilts for our communities?” he asked.
At Walker Methodist communities, dignity quilts are used to cover loved ones after they pass away. The quilts are also used in memorial services for family, friends, and the community. So, for Nancy, Chaplain Karl’s question was personal. “We didn’t have a dignity quilt for my husband when he died,” she explained, “but it would’ve been so special for me.” And Nancy experienced firsthand that when someone moves in, they become part of the family. Dignity quilts help them leave with the same honor and respect. After brief consideration, Nancy said yes—and started quilting. What started as one quilt has turned into a project of 10 total, and each is a labor of love for Nancy.
Some quilts have 200 patches (with 18 pieces each) and can take up to five months to make. Though Nancy’s works of art vary color and pattern, she makes each unique quilt with the same purpose: to give dignity to loved ones and comfort to families. “It takes a lot of work, but I love to do it. All my love goes into these quilts,” said Nancy. “No matter how long it takes to make, I put a piece of myself into whatever I create.”
Giving back, finding purpose
This project is a way for Nancy to give back to a community that has given so much to her. Even though Nancy grew up the midwest, she didn’t know many people when she moved back from Oregon. Now, she’s surrounded by people who know her—a true community. “I’ve made friends. We eat together; we exercise together. One of my friend’s family even took me under their wing. I go to events like BBQs and candlelight services with them,” she shared. “While I’m learning to be me and care for myself, I’m also learning to be part of a community. And this is a great place to do that.”
When Nancy says making these quilts gives her purpose, she means it. In her own words, making dignity quilts is an honor. Families of residents tell her just how much her gift made a difference. They tell her it feels like pure love.
At a dedication ceremony for Nancy’s first donated quilt, Chaplain Karl said a prayer that describes what these quilts mean to Nancy, residents and loved ones, and the communities they call home: “We give You thanks and praise for the people who provided resources for this dignity quilt and more to come. For the gifts and skills You have given Nancy to create this quilt. We offer this quilt in thanksgiving. May those who use it do so in reverence and give thanks for the person whose life we shared here. May our residents, their families, and our team members be touched with compassion and covered with love.”