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Royal City Quilters's Guild goes outside its comfort zone to maintain important connnections

'Members said that this is just what they needed because they were feeling lonely' says member as the group contributes masks to local frontline staff
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It has been a seamless transition for the Royal City Quilters’ Guild as they make the move to virtual programming.

Even though the guild is mostly made up of seniors, who might find technology somewhat intimidating, participation is high as members continue to meet virtually while practicing social distancing measures.

“Meeting virtually provides community and connection during this time. Many members have expressed that keeping connections with the guild helps them feel less isolated,” says guild committee executive member, Lindsay Core. 

“Some were really hesitant about going online. But they have been so willing to try and step out of their comfort zone,” Core says. 

Before COVID-19, guild meetings were held at Three Willows United Church in Guelph. 

“In addition, we have guest speakers and other workshops. There are also sub-groups that meet regularly depending on the type of quilting,” Core said. 

The Royal City Quilters’ Guild currently has about 120 members. 

The new virtual programming encourages members to participate in virtual sew-ins, sub-group meetings, regular meetings and workshops. 

Guest speaker Sarah Yetman, the owner/operator of Spooled Rotten Quilts in Brantford, shared information about her quilts as 70 members joined the Zoom guild meeting on April 14. 

“We also had a show and share, and everyone shared what they were working on. Members said that this is just what they needed because they were feeling lonely. This is really helping them stay connected,” Core said. 

“This is keeping the community going and its been really wonderful to be a part of that,” Core said.

Core has been a member of the group for over seven years and it was her aunt who introduced her to quilting. 

“My aunt reached out to me to see if I was interested. It’s been such a wonderful thing to share this with her over the years,’ Core said. 

During COVID-19, members from the guild are also busy putting their sewing skills to use. 

From sewing gowns for the Hospice and midwifery clinics to making masks for many local institutions including long-term care homes and Guelph General Hospital, The Royal City Quilters’ Guild wants to do their part during the crisis.  

“When all of this started, not even a week in, my mother who is involved with the Hospice mentioned a need for gowns. The Hospice wondered if there was anyone in the community who might be able to sew gowns,” Core says. 

“A pattern was made by a volunteer at the Hospice. I digitized it and sent it out to the Guild.”

And almost instantly, gowns were being made. 

“Also, my cousin is a midwife and she said that midwives were really in need of gowns too,” Core said.

“The problem for quilters is that they have fabric, but it’s usually small pieces of fabric.” 

Guild members gathered what material they could including bed sheets from their own homes. 

The owner of the St. Jacobs Quilt Company Ltd., Phyllis Winfield, has also been helpful in providing fabric to the guild and this has been a huge help according to Core. 

So far, the guild has made over 100 gowns and 300 masks. 

“It’s really amazing because this is all happening over the phone or through e-mail and drop-offs are all left on my porch at home,” Core says. 

“Everyone wants to help.” 

The Royal City Quilters’ Guild also has a long-standing relationship with the Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Unit at Guelph General Hospital for over 13 years. 

The Unit provides nursing and social services to meet the needs of Wellington County’s victims of sex crimes. Guild members assist in the creation of beautiful comfort quilts to help in the healing process. 

“Everyone who comes through the centre gets a quilt, one that resonates with them,” Core says. 

“The unit coordinator meets with our guild once a year and shares stories about how much the quilts are loved. For the women who visit the unit, in some situations, it’s the only thing that really belongs to them.”

This project, as well as the many others supporting those in need during the pandemic will continue despite social distancing. 

“The guild has made the decision to keep its meetings, workshops and community outreach activities on-line through the summer and into June 2021,” Core says.

“Even if we can start to meet in person, all activities will continue to be offered on-line to ensure that members who are safer at home, can still be part of the quilting community.”

The connection is important more now than ever for the guild. 

“For me, I just love knowing that we are making a difference in the community and it also makes me feel less isolated. It goes both ways,” Core said. 

“I benefit in knowing that I’m helping the community and that what we are doing is keeping the community connected, and that I am part of something much bigger.”

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