VALDERS, WI (SPECTRUM NEWS) - If its a Thursday morning, Gladys Hansen and her group of quilt-makers has likely taken over the basement at Faith Lutheran Church in Valders.
"God comes first, then our family, then quilting."
Gladys Hansen has been the group’s coordinator for forty years. Last year the ladies shipped out five hundred and twenty five quilts through the Lutheran World Relief Organization to those in need around the globe. For Gladys and her team, the reason they do it is simple.
“We sew because we think of people in need and that’s the basis for our sewing. We have no idea who receives them, and we don’t care. But if you’re cold, and you’re uncomfortable because you need something to wrap up in, that’s what we want you to have is a quilt from Faith Lutheran Church.”
“We all care about other people, especially those people in Third World countries that don’t have all of the things that we are so lucky to have here in the United States.”
From eight a.m. to around noon, the women are tying, cutting, pinning, and sewing, finishing around twelve to fourteen quilts in a days work. They do get a quick coffee break halfway through. It’s a time share treats, trade recipes, talk family, and it brings the group closer together.
“It’s just a time to sit around and relax because so many of these women have been standing for two to three hours. We share a lot of good times and bad times. It’s just a really nice feeling that everybody cares about each other.”
Gladys, who is eighty-nine, doesn’t sit for long. She set a goal back in 1979 to have twenty-five thousand quilts shipped overseas. As of now, the tally is 24,390.
“Since I wanted to go to twenty-five thousand, I’m getting so close, I’m going to have to change that amount, because I’m not going to quit at twenty-five thousand.”
The group works out of a Lutheran church basement but it is an ecumenical gathering, with members belonging to different churches in the area. The thread that ties them together and keeps them going is simple to Gladys.
“I think it’s our Lord. I really do. I think He pushes us. This is our responsibility. He needs help, and so we help him.”
Another driving force for Gladys is a promise she made many years ago. When the founder of the group, Esther Berg, was dying of cancer, she asked Gladys to take over and carry on with the work.
“How do you tell a dying lady that, well, find somebody else. You can’t do that. I said, I will make sure that it continues as long as I’m here. I’m here, and I’m still continuing. I’m eighty-nine, I’ll be ninety in November. I don’t slow down.”