ROCHELLE – On Saturday Aug. 17, Paul Bearrows, of Rochelle, received his Quilt of Valor at the Illinois Moose Association Convention.
Quilts of Valor is an organization that was formed in 2003 when founder Catherine Roberts had a dream about a soldier at war while her son was deployed in Iraq at the time. The dream instilled the idea that handmade quilts could be used to help heal both the physical and mental wounds left from war.
Roberts recalls her dream in detail on the Quilts of Valor website:
“I saw a young man sitting on the side of his bed in the middle of the night, hunched over. The permeating feeling was one of utter despair. I could see his war demons clustered around, dragging him down into an emotional gutter. Then, as if viewing a movie, I saw him in the next scene wrapped in a quilt. His whole demeanor changed from one of despair to one of hope and wellbeing. The quilt had made this dramatic change. The message of my dream was: Quilts = Healing.”
From the beginning, Roberts knew that a Quilt of Valor had to be hand quilted and not tied together, either using a machine or by hand. So, she began assembling a team of volunteers who would dedicate their time to creating these quilts.
It was also determined that Quilts of Valor would be “awarded” to individuals rather than just being handed out.
The very first Quilt of Valor was awarded to a young soldier from Minnesota who had lost his leg in Iraq. In the beginning, the quilts were only awarded to veterans who had served in either Iraq or Afghanistan, until receiving feedback from other veterans suggested they should be all inclusive.
“I affectionately referred to these young men as “babies” to distinguish them from veterans of other conflicts. Among us civilians, there were no complaints, as we were in the throes of an ongoing war. However, there were faint rumblings from those who worked at Veterans Administration Medical Centers. They politely pointed out if wasn’t fair to award a QOV to one group of wounded an exclude others. The light of inclusiveness began to glimmer,” explained Roberts on the QOV website.
Since then, the organization has continued to grow through word of mouth and help from the internet. The Moose of Illinois initiated this program in February of this year to recognize its veterans.
For more information on the Quilts of Valor organization and to donate, visit their website at www.qovf.org.