Quilts Of Valor Program Seeks Veterans Nominations | News, Sports, Jobs

World War II veteran Paul Arnone is pictured with Quilts Of Valor rep Mary Lou Zerby. A quilt was recently given to Arnone. Submitted photo

Anne Lamott wrote of the quilt: “We sew meaning quilts together to keep us warm and safe, with every bit of beauty and utility we have on hand.”

This is exactly what the Quilts of Valor local in western New York is doing, creating quilts to honor veterans. The section is now seeking applications from local veterans to receive a quilt through the organization. The group is also looking for volunteers interested in making quilts, as well as those willing to donate to the cause. The local Vets Finding Vets program has also encouraged the nomination of local veterans.

Vets Finding Vets is a program founded at the Fenton History Center to continue the legacy of the Fenton Mansion by hosting veterans-related reunions as well as efforts to help veterans over the years. The group meets regularly and offers local veterans the chance to meet and provide free access to the Fenton Research Center for veterans, serving members and reservists. The services allow them to begin or continue their family history, locate old service friends, and gather information about soldiers buried in cemeteries in Chautauqua County.

Quilts of Valor is a national program that began in 2003. Volunteer teams from sections across the country donate time and materials to make a quilt which is then presented to a nominated veteran as a thank you for service, the sacrifice and valor of the veteran in the service of the nation. All quilts made in Chautauqua County are attributed to Chautauqua County Veterans.

Recently, a local veteran and member of Vets Finding Vets, Paul Arnone, received a quilt through the local. Arnone is 97 years old and served in World War II.

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His daughter, Peggy, nominated him for the honor but was unable to attend the presentation as she lives in North Carolina. Mary Lou Zerby, a representative of Western New York Quilts of Valor, met with Arnone and Barb Cessna, coordinator of the Vets Finding Vets project, to present the quilt.

“It’s so beautiful, such fine needlework that takes a long time to do,” Arnone said. “I’m proud to receive this quilt because it’s not something a veteran receives every day, and you know it comes from the hearts of the people who made it. “

Zerby said she was excited to meet Arnone, showcase her quilt, and discuss her service experience. She has been involved with the organization since the early 2000s and finds it gratifying to make this honor unique to local veterans.

“It makes me cry just to think about what they had to sacrifice” she said. “I love making quilts – I have two children and three grandchildren – how many quilts can I make for my family? I’ve always volunteered for stuff my whole life; I’m still a Girl Scout so this is a way to satisfy my quilting cravings and also to do something so rewarding. Sometimes for Vietnam veterans who have been treated so harshly, this is the first time they have been welcomed into their home. Literally, they come to tears. It’s just rewarding and it’s something I’m happy to be able to do.

Zerby started quilting for the program in Myrtle Beach, as she lives there part-time and in western New York City part of the year as well. She pulled up the quilts to

Zerby and Cessna would like to see a large number of area veterans nominated for the program. Nominations can be made through qovf.org. The group also accepts donations through the website, or checks can be sent to Zerby at 2700 Woodlawn Avenue, Hamburg, NY 14075, attention “WNY Quilters for a Cause.”

Applications are still open, but quilt submissions depend on the number of quilts available. Zerby said making a quilt takes time, so it all depends. The local chapter currently has around 25 volunteers, but is always looking for new members to help with the mission.

“If you’re a quilter and like to help out, you’ll find patterns on the Quilts of Valor website. “ she said. “The average dimension is 60 by 80 inches, and they can be a bit bigger and smaller. If anyone wants to make a quilt top and donate it to us, we’ll make sure it’s quilted. Some people are quilters and like to make one for a family member and then present it to them themselves. There are options. But the important part is to have these veterans nominated. “

For more information about the program, visit qovf.org or call Barb Cessna at 716-664-6256.

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