California Quilters Keep Sewing for Hospice Patients

VITAS patients, their families, and care facilities throughout Orange County, California, will continue to receive comforting, handmade quilts from nearly 250 women who belong to the Flying Geese Quilters Guild.

VITAS Community Connection (VCC) recently donated $3,000 to the Irvine-based guild—its first-ever cash donation—for the purchase of fabric and other quilting supplies for its members.

“Our guild is 36 years old this year, and we’ve never received a cash donation like this, ever,” says a grateful Julia Renaud, who chairs the guild with members Mary Howland and Pat Chambers. “It’s amazing how many women are depleting their sewing and fabric supplies during COVID-19. Our members are eager to help other people. When this donation came in, we all said, ‘batting…batting…batting!’ and we bought a whole lot.” (Quilt batting is the fluffy layer of material between a quilt’s decorative front and back cover).

VITAS Community Connection is a 501(c)3 charitable organization that provides financial assistance to community organizations like the Flying Geese Quilters Guild. Donations received from grateful families and friends in memory of their loved ones, and from donors who believe in hospice organizations, provide support through VITAS Community Connection.

A Tangible, Emotional Impact

Over the past 6 years, the quilting guild’s members have sewn and donated more than 400 quilts and 1,000 pillowcases to VITAS in Orange County for hospice patients and care teams, says VITAS Volunteer Manager Judy Andoe. Visit their website at to see their other community activities.

“The patients get very excited because someone who doesn’t even know them has made something just for them, and these quilts are of such amazing quality,” Andoe says. “Our patients get very emotional when they receive a quilt, and when a patient passes, the quilt remains a treasured memory for the family. Facilities love them, too. When a nursing home resident passes, the facility will wash the quilts and give them to another resident, so the act of giving continues.”

Jennifer Marquez, general manager for VITAS in Orange County, suggested the VCC donation because of the immense impact of the guild’s work on the care of VITAS patients in their homes and care facilities.

‘Someone Really Cares About Them’

“Our patients and residents are very, very thankful when they receive a quilt,” she says. “With the lack of connection that our patients have experienced throughout the pandemic, receiving their very own quilt lets them know someone really cares about them, and it adds a human element and personal touch to everything we do. Sometimes the patients wrap themselves up in the quilt, which are works of art, really.”

Marquez says the project reinforces the value of volunteers as part of the hospice philosophy, including VITAS volunteers and community volunteers like the guild’s quilting members.

“The volunteer department to me is really special because our volunteers are often the last friend that our patients are ever going to make,” she explains. “To give them a gift that’s been made specifically for them by a complete stranger…you can’t even put words to that feeling and that emotion.”

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