In the middle of his second year of grad school for chemistry, Ron Church received his draft papers for the Vietnam War. Ron joined the Air Force, and within a few months, he was flying over Vietnam in a B-52 as a radar navigator.
“When we came home. It was a relief. Spokane has always been supportive of the military, and they still are,” said Ron.
Even after all these years, there’s a group of local women making sure veterans like Ron know they are loved and valued one stitch and one square of fabric at a time. Quilts of Valor Foundation is a national organization dedicated to making quilts for veterans around the world. The local chapter in the Garland District in Spokane stitches red, white, and blue quilts and gives them to veterans in surprise ceremonies several times a month.
“We’ve awarded about 29 quilts this year. When I get to award a quilt, it’s always an excitement. I always get that positive sense of doing something special for someone,” said Cherrie Takenaka, who leads the Garland Quilts of Valor.
Cherrie Takenaka and 20 or so women work on the quilts just about every day, at their own homes. Cherrie estimates it takes nearly 20 hours to piece together a quilt from buying fabric, cutting, stitching and washing them so their fresh and clean for veterans. The group relies on donations to make each quilt.
“It’s about $200-$250 per quilt. Whenever the money gets low, somehow it always fills back up,” said Cherrie.
The quilts are more than beautiful works of art and a blanket for the end of the bed. The intrinsic stitching and mesmerizing patterns bring comfort and healing to veterans. When Ron received his quilt in 2015, he was surprised and honored to know someone cares about his service and Vietnam experience.
“I think it’s an honor to receive the quilt and have served. The older I get, Vietnam makes me sadder and sadder. Even so, I feel good that I served my country,” said Ron.
Cherrie and the Quilts of Valor also surprised a volunteer of their own with a penguin quilt to honor her service in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.
“I was honored beyond belief. I was blown away. I know how much work goes into that quilt,” said Terri Smoak.
Veterans cherish their quilts enough to proudly display the blankets in their homes. Each quilt is stitching new memories into the hearts of our heroes.
“I have my quilt out on my couch in my front room. I just figured I’d keep it there so people can see it when they stop by,” said Ron.