When I set out to form a quilting group in 1977, I didn’t know what it would look like. I placed ads anywhere I could, asking people who were interested in forming a guild to contact me. The response was pleasing, and I met interesting people who were already making quilts, mostly in small groups. What they wanted was a meeting place where they could learn new techniques from others and compare and exchange patterns while enjoying a social experience along with expanding their knowledge of quilting.
Initially, there was a small core discussion group which included Wendy Wulff, Michelle Gallagher, Mary and Louise Frick, Monica Rieger and myself. Art and Vera O’Keefe came on board a little later. When we had agreed on some basic premises for the guild, we advertised our first meeting in Surrey. To our amazement, quilters came from as far east as Squamish and all the way from Vedder Crossing in the west. We were thrilled!
The longevity of the Fraser Valley Quilters’ Guild has demonstrated that quilters want to expand their knowledge within the context of a social connection. From the beginning we had planned for a library, newsletters and classes, but it was the brilliance of the quilts and patterns to which teachers from all over the world would introduce us that raised the guild to another level.
I am grateful to the subsequent members who recognized the many ways the entity of the Guild, through the diversity of its membership, could contribute to their communities. Every year the Guild donates a modest sum to a chosen charity. Over the years, various programs such as the Preemie Quilt project were introduced. This initiative alone has donated over 10,000 quilts to the preemie units of various hospitals. Members have also contributed quilts to Cops for Cancer and The Vancouver Writer’s Exchange, along with supporting many other charitable causes.
I could never have foreseen how the substantial gifts of time and talent along with the incredible generosity of our community-spirited members would transform the Guild and firmly root it, and its members into such a force in the community.
I feel humbled by the beautiful spirit and gracious, creative hearts the members have exhibited in planning, piecing, displaying and donating their quilts for almost half a century!