Monday, August 11, 2014

Faces of Hope

It has been a long journey for those who lost their homes, all their possessions, their animals, family and friends in the horrific landslide that occurred in Oso, WA this year.

Sad to say until then, I don't ever recall hearing about Oso, after all it is such a tiny little place where neighbors help neighbors, everyone knows everyone and they help each other out.  If you blinked, you would miss it driving through the beautiful country side.

My first visit up there, I met three incredible women...Joy, Irma and Pastor Sandy who are just the most amazingly loving people and so full of joy and compassion. 

I met Joy first, looking for someone to help me out with a quilt contact in Oso, Joy's son in Texas was raising money for a family, I contacted him and within minutes Joy and I were on the phone talking and making plans.

The first trip up there, we met at the local Dairy Queen parking lot and with Joy was Irma, a spunky woman who lights up when she is talking to you like you are family and with these three women, you feel like family.

Joy and Irma were our guides that day (myself and Tomboy granddaughter). Our first stop was at the local funeral home who were part of burying those gone. The look on the funeral director's face was of shock and surprise as I don't think anyone had ever thought of what they go through during these times, burying so many.

The Marysville fire department was next and a few tears from those men when they realized the quilts were for them and their brothers and sisters that were first on scene.  Without knowing it I was told my hands formed a heart. Maybe it because as a retired dispatcher I have so much love in my heart for first responders.

We then drove to Oso and dropped off quilts for survivors and fire personnel. Joy had been there the week prior and dropped off a bunch at that time as well as dropping off enough quilts for every chaplain that got on scene and remained.  We need to always remember those first responders whether they be volunteers or not.

We then continued our drive up through the devastation and to say I cried most of the way, while granddaughter took photos is an understatement, my heart was torn up.
 Unless you were there driving through the area, smelling the nauseating smells, seeing the horrible carnage, watching it on the television trust me when I say, you will never understand.  We didn't get up there for at least a month, but you could still feel the heaviness and there were still bodies buried that I am now able to say have all been recovered.

These people will never rebuild, they will never get their lives back the way they were a week, day or even minutes before the mountain came sliding down.  Many I am told, have left the area for lack of housing availability or pain.

We were able to have lunch this first day with Pastor Sandy at the Darrington UMC, a tiny church consisting of mainly older parishoners, but with a small package of joyful dynamite as a pastor, she told us about the loss, how hard it was to have to drive all the way around for jobs (employers didn't cut people any slack), and how much she was working with families and volunteers.

The granddaughter walked away that day with an understanding of how lives can be changed in a blink of an eye and she wrote a paper about it.

The quilts kept arriving, we kept rearranging the house to make more room. Tons of infant and baby quilts arrived and we delivered those that were requested, but the population up in Oso didn't have that many little ones, so we donated a box full to Quilts of Compassion right after the tornadoes hit this year. We knew they would have a huge need and we wanted to bless others as well.

When we were leaving the church, Pastor Sandy and Irma began talking chickens. Seems that these two ladies raise chickens and when they get together, well, lets just say Joy calls them the crazy chicken ladies!

The next trip up two weeks later, I took Diva girl and we delivered to the Arlington PD who were also on scene and lost family friends. Remember, Oso is the mid-point between Arlington and Darrington and it cut many people off!
These men and women were very excited when the quilts came in and thank you to the officers and my diva girl for carrying them in for me.  The quilt they chose to hold up reminds me that this tragedy will never dim their resolve to move forward!

We delivered more to the Arlington Fire Department:
These men were so amazed that we were bringing them gifts, but they were so happy to stop for a few minutes and talk to us about Oso.

We also delivered more to the funeral home in Arlington that took care of family and friends they grew up  with and came to love and even for them who deals with death, this was different.

Another amazing women I met was Jana Hecla who had been reaching out and helping since day one and if you have never met the Ever Ready Bunny, let me tell you this it she! From dawn to deep into the night, Jana drove her and her granddaughter non-stop to pick up supplies, food, over the mountain into Seattle, it didn't matter if they had a need Jana was there! On this day, she received a quilt for herself and her granddaughter. She cried, only this time, I told her...'no tears, I didn't want my mascara to run!'

By this time, I knew the routine to get over the mountain to Darrington and we arrived in line just in time to go with the caravan. We met up with a couple from Pastor Sandy's church to drop off more quilts and then to the community center to drop off 65 handmade fleece blankets.

We were starving and were told Burger Barn made the best burgers and shakes in Darrington. We found out later they are the O N L Y burger place in Darrington so they would make the best. They were fantastic and got us food in time to get us back over the mountain.

We knew we were going to make another trip to volunteer at the Oso Caring fund raiser, but this time we were not only giving quilts but our time.
 The picture above is myself with one of the volunteers that showed up to help at The Hub and was there everyday, she gave us a tour, talked about reaching out and helping others, it was an amazing thing to know so many people care! Of course the oldest grand wanted in on it as well!
Our delivery this day was for a specific number of quilts that were going directly to survivors! I didn't want to leave. During times like these I always want to be involved and help where I can!

This lady is a local fire volunteer and came up to thank me for the quilts and all we did to let everyone know they were loved! I explained this is NOT me, this is God's ministry and I have a quilting army that went beyond my wildest dreams!

The area has changed. There will be no more homes built, the mountain I am hearing will probably slide again one day and when it does, my prayer is no one will be in the area.

Saturday, once again we made the trip back up to Darrington, this time for a picnic we had been invited to and for a surprise for Pastor Sandy who in spite of what people believe about the still working to help families and friends, still counseling the survivors and volunteers, still daily driving for miles to reach people.

This time, thanks to Sue of The Magpie's Nest in Mt. Vernon, Pastor Sandy was getting her own quilt, one with chickens on it and this time, she wasn't going to be able to say no...

I couldn't show these before because I was concerned somehow someone would find them and show Pastor Sandy, but Sue did an amazing job and you can find out more about Sue at:
Sewing Magpie blog, so stop by and tell her Jean from Layers of Hope sent you over to say hello!

On our way up, we stopped in Marysville, at the DQ again only we were picking up quilts from a lady whose cousin lives in Texas, but brought her out the quilts on a visit to be picked up by myself.

These beautiful quilts or handsome since they are all for males were made by the San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild and the one I am holding was made by Sarah Jimenez, who contacted me to let me know where I could pick them up!

Karen and her dog lucky are just another two wonderful and amazing people/animals I can add to this journey of those I would love to sit and visit with for hours!

Oh how I wish this picture really captured the sheer joy and squeals that came out of this amazing lady of God when she turned this quilt over and realized it was full of chickens. I thought she was going to hug all the air out of me, she was so happy.

This is what this ministry is about, this is what all of you are about, bringing joy and warmth to people during their darkest hours, in the midst of pain and shock and confusion, you are reaching out and bringing a piece of home to them, you are giving them something they can start a new chapter of their life with and it matters!

I cannot possibly hug all of you, but if I could, I would and someday I want to take a journey to meet some of you and share an hour of your life to let you know that:

You Matter!  You Make a Difference! You Touch Lives and Hearts!
Through all their loss and pain, you let them know people care, strangers care and the world is not all full of the bad news we see everyday.

These are the faces of tragedy, but they are also the faces of resolve and hope.  The yellow ribbons no longer line the bridge to Oso, the fire department is no longer full of people, but the people are moving forward.

Please, we have a great need for quilts for the Washington Wildfire families, look at these faces and know you do make a difference and reach out.

Quilts can be sent to me:
Jean Kester 18740 Ivan Street SW Rochester, WA  98579

Check out our needs at:
Layers of Hope - Quilting 911 Washington Wildfire Quilts

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Get Your Women's Day and Read About Layers Of Hope Quilting 911

I just received this notice from Women's Day magazine regarding Layers of Hope - Quilting 911. I sure hope it helps us get more quilts for those in need!

Just a note to let you know that your item about quilting for 911 dispatchers will be in the Kindness Project column for our October issue, on newsstands Sept. 19. Thank you for being one of our active readers and have a great rest of summer!
Lauren Spencer
Woman’s Day

Thursday, July 31, 2014

An Unseen hero says thank you!

This is Audrey and she is one of our unseen heroes and has been going through some pretty aggressive treatment for cancer.  Here is what her niece had to say:

'My aunt, Audrey, received a beautiful unexpected gift this afternoon from Layers of Hope - Quilting 911! She's a dispatcher in California and had surgery this past month to remove a brain tumor. She is about to start six weeks of radiation in Houston, TX, followed by a year of chemotherapy. It was so touching to receive this wonderful gift! Thank you to everyone involved in this loving organization.'

Here is Audrey's story:
Redwood City (CA) Dispatcher in Need of Support
This is a shameless request for help for one of our dispatchers Audrey Scott.  Audrey is a 19-Year Veteran dispatcher, tactical dispatcher, communications training officer, POST instructor – loves being a dispatcher J (supervisor’s dream employee)
In June, Audrey underwent significant brain surgery to remove a tumor from the front left lobe area…  unfortunately the test results came back “grade 3” brain cancer.
Her family is back in Texas and she will be going to Dallas immediately to stay in what was supposed to be her “retirement” home and travel back and forth to Houston to the MD Anderson Cancer Center for heavy doses of both chemo and radiation.  She will have to stay in hotels weekly during the 3 to 6 months of her treatment because the drive is about 4 hours.
We were devastated to hear the latest news on Audrey but kicked into gear to try and help her with her unexpected medical expenses and travel & hotel costs while she fights to beat this dreadful disease.
We launched a Gofundme account and t shirt fundraiser (black t shirt, great to wear under uniforms) to help her with extra costs involved.  The response has been amazing!  A true testament to the Audrey we know and love.  She is ALWAYS the first in line to help someone in need.
Here are the links if you can help or forward – we would so appreciate it!
Click here to read Audrey’s story:
Click here to purchase a t-shirt:
Thanks for your time,
Jackie Pace
Communications Manager

We at Layers of Hope - Quilting 911 are saying prayers for this amazing unseen hero and if you would like to send her a letter or card of encouragement please send to and make sure she knows you are part of Layers of Hope - Quilting 911:
Audrey Scott
3625 high road
Flower mound, TX

Monday, July 28, 2014

Do You Coupon? Can You Help Me?

Our family grew two weeks ago. My ex-daughter in law called me and said she needed to get our youngest granddaughter to us immediately and we were blessed to have friends reach out to us and donated money and gift certificates to get her on a short notice flight to Seattle.

We knew her belongings would be sparse and they were...the clothes she had on her back and a small grocery sack of dirty smelly laundry and shoes she said she found in a dumpster that were 3 sizes to big for her!

We took her shopping for new shoes, socks, underwear, a few shorts and tops, personal items and she still needs more, but for now she has enough until school.

So many of you are raising families with 3, 4 or more children and my hat goes off to all of you. But let me explain to you that my husband and I have always worked hard and we raised our family. We raised four sons.

In 2004, we received guardianship of 3 of 4 grandchildren and in 2008 we were given sole legal custody of those 3. We are thankful we had the money to fight the legal hurdles the other grandparent threw in our way and we were sad that instead of reaching out to help us, she felt taking us to court was the better thing to do.

We do our best and sometimes we fall short, but only my husband is working now. I can no longer work due to loss of my hearing, back surgeries and other disabilities.

I can take a roast and stretch it into 3 days of meals, I shop our local produce stands and this year I planted (maybe to late) peas, yellow squash, tomatoes, peppers and watermelon.  Washington weather is unpredictable so we will see how the garden goes.

I see all the time, people who coupon and I would like to know how to do this. I clip coupons, but saying .40 cents off of something won't get me the amazing deals I see where people have overstock to donate to charity.

We DO NOT in Washington have stores that double or triple coupons so I can't do that. But there has to be a site to turn to or someone who can help me understand how to do this and save some money.

We have 3 granddaughters all with long hair and let me tell you they can go through a bottle of shampoo and conditioner in record time.

Anyone out there want to help give me some pointers, I would appreciate it.

I do use Safeway Coupons and Just 4 You, but many times I notice they have already added the weekly coupon to my pile though I haven't cut it out. Can I use a paper coupon to add to that as well?

We have Fred Meyer, Safeway, Albertsons, IGA, Walgreens, WalMart and I do know my bargains at Costco. We also have a Winco and a Shopko which I get $10 off frequently my purchases of $50 or more.

Please help!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Please Help Us Get Quilts To These Families and First Responders

Please help us reach these families of the wildfires in Washington state, there have been over 300 homes burned, many fires are burning, please help us with quilts of comfort! 

You can send them to me:
Jean Kester
18740 Ivan Street SW
Rochester, WA  98579 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The First I Hope of Many

Eight quilts came in yesterday from a local Washington resident who made each and every one of them.  Thank you so much Jane O. for your amazing contribution.

 These will head over to the central and eastern part of Washington when we gather enough to take to Okanogan County, Twisp-Winthorp, Pateros and Brewster, Washington.

Please when you send quilts, remember most of these will go to adults and we really need adult sized quilts.

Blessings and many thanks to Jane!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Step-Families, Mixed Families, Can You Help?

Many of you know we have been raising our 3 grandchildren since 2004 and have sole legal custody. You also know we have prayed for their youngest sibling that someday she would be able to come and join them.

Two weeks ago her mom put her on a plane with nothing more than the clothes on her back, a few books, some crayons, and a bag of dirty clothes, shoes that were to big for her.

My husband and I took her and bought her a few pairs of shorts, tops, shoes, socks, underwear, personal items all things she needed. We came home took everyone to a nice dinner, took them to the water park the next day, all was great, everyone was happy.

However, the honeymoon has worn off and the kids that have lived with us for so long are becoming resentful towards her and I don't want to see this happen. 

I will admit she embellishes many things like telling us last week she and a friend went to Madagascar, it took my husband several times to get her to finally say she was only pretending.

Last night I looked for her IPOD she said it was on her bed, I knew she had it, when she finally said, 'oh look, here it is I forgot I had it,' in 30 seconds time? I told her she needs to stop telling stories, it isn't nice.

She will want something and ask me and then when I say no, say, my brother or sister asked me to ask but when I question them it is obvious she has made this up.

Because of this and an incident last night where Diva girl had made them all a blanket fort and then came out to watch a show with me, her sister told her brother, if she isn't back in 5 seconds, I am tearing this down & she did and boy was the fight on.

How do I handle this? I am trying to make them accept her and welcome her, but she isn't making it easy on them and is telling stories that are not so.

Yesterday she told my grandson, Papa said I get to ride your mini bike all day. Papa over heard it and said, I did not say that and I told you I would let you ride it Saturday, it is not your bike, it is his and I am not taking it away from him.

The issue is we really have no idea what she has lived in, I do know she has gone from her moms to her grandma's to motels, to who knows what. She tells of abuse living with her aunt and grandmother.

It is hard for her I get that, she has no friends here, we do not know what is going to happen next, mom told her she was moving to Seattle, so that would mean another move, we have no legal paperwork on her at all for medical or school.

I just need to know how can I get her to fit into the family, we love her and I know the kids love her, but they are quickly becoming very frustrated with her and the things she says and does.

Please help!