Dawn Snell was a cancer survivor in the 1990’s. Tina Hlavaty was then working with a group called Journey of Hope “I Am Not Alone”. The group helped those going through cancer treatment. This group assisted with small grants, but also presented patients going through chemotherapy with lap quilts. The quilts were sewn through a handful of churches, including John Knox in North Olmsted. Tina presented Dawn with one of the quilts.
As a result, when Dawn was in remission, she offered and began to sew some of the lap quilts at home. Tina approached Dawn with the request of beginning a group through St. Luke to sew lap quilts. In 2000 Dawn spoke with Linda Beller about beginning this ministry at St. Luke. It began with word of mouth in the Beller home with eleven women. Many had never sewn but began to learn to cut squares for the quilts and tuft the quilts with knotted yarn. The quilts were given to Tina and Jim Hlavaty who would distribute them at the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals to those undergoing cancer treatment. Dawn was the coordinator of the group until 2016 when she left to take care of her husband. Linda Beller then continued as coordinator of the group, with Theresa Gies assisting.
It was soon evident that the group needed a larger space in which to work, so Fr. Walsh offered an area of the convent on St. Luke property. At this time the Hlavaty’s also received a very large donation of fabric from JoAnn Fabrics in Hudson, Ohio. A great deal of this fabric has sustained us to this day.
When the convent closed, the quilters moved to the first floor of the school building. By this time, the students had moved to Lakewood Catholic Academy. We were later asked to move to the second floor of the school, where we presently meet in room 208.
Although we started with eleven, our numbers have dwindled to a very dedicated nine. They are:
Nora Prunty, Carole Banyas and her granddaughter Nidia, Lenore Kline, Sandy Stowers and her mother Micky, Rose Dugan, Theresa Gies, and Linda Beller. Theresa volunteered through a St. Luke Ministry Fair held in 2008. Sandy was involved with Journey of Hope and when the group dissolved, she volunteered to help at St. Luke with her mother.
We range in age from 10 to 92. Although most are from St. Luke Parish, one is from St. Christopher and two are from Berea and Independence. We meet on the first Saturday of each month. We usually complete between 8-10 quilts each month. They are given to Jim Hlavaty before the 4:30 Mass on the first Saturday of the month. Fr. Keven blesses them prior to mass in the sacristy. When the Hlavaty’s have 30-40 quilts they distribute them. Some are taken to Rainbow Babies and Children where nurses distribute them to children with cancer. The rest are distributed by Tina and Jim Hlavaty at Metro General Hospital. Due to privacy issues, quilts are no longer taken to the Cleveland Clinic or University Hospitals (except for RB&C).
Although we still have fabric from that early JoAnn fabric donation, we have supplemented with donations that have been offered to those within the group. The donations have to be sorted since some fabric is not suitable to our needs. We usually donate this fabric to Lakewood Office on Aging. We have also received large donations of yarn for tufting the quilts. We probably have more yarn than we could ever use. Lastly, some of us within the group have purchased material on sale with our own money, either because it is a color we don’t have enough of to match other fabric, or we are looking for fabric suitable to make quilts that would be appropriate for children.
Our biggest expense is batting to fill the quilt and flannel to back the quilt. This is not something that is donated because the batting must be of a thickness and size that is suitable for our needs. We buy it by the roll at a cost of $95-$100/roll. A roll lasts us approximately two months.
The flannel is not donated because we need to purchase this item by the bolt. There are 25 yards of white flannel on a bolt and the cost averages approximately $65-70/bolt. This is enough to make approximately 15 quilts. A bolt lasts us approximately 1 ½ to 2 months.
Using these figures, it would require approximately $1000-1100 to fully fund our ministry for a year.
We attempted to raise money during the Lakewood Arts Festival from 2013-2016 in order to purchase a sewing machine. We would raffle off a quilt and a couple of baskets. This gave us approximately $350 which we used to purchase a machine. We continued to work the festival until it was decided the weather was too unpredictable, and the 90-degree temperatures didn’t help..
We have mainly been funded by St. Luke. Our pastors have given our ministry $350-$400 a year. We use this to buy batting. Linda Beller has usually purchased flannel out of her pocket, with others in the group buying a bolt from time to time as well.
We have distributed about 3,000 St. Luke quilts over the last 19 years, and this may be a low estimate. Each of our quilts have a sewn-on label which reads:
“I am Not Alone” sm Programs
Handmade by Quilters at
St. Luke Church, Lakewood