Each traditional handmade quilt tells a story. Some are masculine, their fabrics depicting duck-hunting scenes or sports. Others are soft and child-like, their pastel squares and triangles interlocking in patterns that burst with cheerful color.
For the women who create the quilts, each one is a gift from the heart — a gift destined to go to a City of Hope patient they do not know. Yet each patient will know they were crafted with care and love.
|Heather Goulet displays a duck-adorned quilt. (Photo by Alicia Di Rado)|
The 25 blankets, delivered to City of Hope in time for the holidays in mid-December 2009, were stitched over the previous year by current and former employees at the Irell & Manella law firm in Century City, Calif. Every Wednesday during the year, about a half dozen women meet at the law firm at lunchtime to cut, sew and painstakingly nip and tuck quilt pieces together to create their masterpieces. Some retirees in New Mexico and Arizona also participate.
Quilters Heather Goulet and Barbara Tanezaki handed them over to the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center, which will distribute them to patients. Over six years, the artisans have created 135 of the thick, colorful blankets for children and adults.
“All of us have been touched by cancer in some way,” said Goulet. “The quilts are a way to show we care.”
Irell & Manella has generously given to City of Hope. Its $10 million in gifts to the institution have endowed a chair for the cancer center, renamed the graduate school as the Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences and created a visiting professorship.
The firm so believes in the quilting group’s efforts at City of Hope that it set aside a room in the middle of its offices, complete with sewing machines, for the work.
Natalie Schnaitmann, M.S.W., director of operations for the Biller Patient and Family Resource Center, ensures that the right quilt is matched with the right patient. For example, last year, a patient who loved cats was given a quilt featuring fabric with felines.
“I brought one myself to a patient,” Schnaitmann said, “and I could see that it meant so much to her.”