'Peacemakers' donate more than 3,000 quilts to cancer patients

The "Peacemakers" quilting group at Bethesda-On-The-Bay recently completed their 3,000th quilt for donation to cancer patients.

The Peacemakers quilting group at Bethesda-On-The-Bay Lutheran Church in Bay Village has been making quilts for local cancer patients since 1998. Recently, the women celebrated an important milestone – the finishing of their 3,000th quilt.

Every Thursday morning, local women meet in a classroom at the church to make 40-by-60-inch quilts – each one with a unique pattern. The quilts are donated to cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and radiation at the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center at Fairview Hospital.

Jane Resko of Westlake founded the group 15 years ago when she heard a doctor from her church talk about how beneficial quilts would be for his cancer patients. Resko gathered some women and collected donated fabric to begin the first quilting session of the “peacemakers.” Today there are 18 women in the group.

“Each quilt we make is special,” said Resko. “It gives patients something to hold onto and lets them know someone else is thinking of them while they go through such a hard time in their lives.”

For cancer survivors Joy Arndt of Olmsted Township and Mary Lou Kolke of Bay Village, the quilts have special meaning. Both ladies were treated at Fairview Hospital’s Cancer Center and received quilts while they were patients – prior to joining the quilting group.

“Being part of this group brings me such joy,” said Arndt. “We all support each other and have become close friends.”

Kolke, who was treated for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, is a member of Bethesda-On-The-Bay and just joined the group last year. “Receiving the quilt meant so much to me, and I feel so blessed to be part of this group now.”

Patients receiving the quilts at Fairview Hospital are extremely grateful and often send the group thank you notes. Gwen Paull, a social worker at the cancer center, helps distribute the quilts on behalf of the peacemakers. “Our patients feel blessed to receive something so beautiful that was made just for them,” said Paull. “We do everything we can to treat our patients like family and offer them support and comfort throughout their cancer journey.”

Each spring, Resko and the oncology social workers at Fairview Hospital host a special luncheon to honor all of their quilting volunteers. In addition to the Peacemakers, there are at least 70 more women from other area churches and groups who make and donate quilts to the hospital.

“These talented volunteers truly make a difference in our patients’ lives and we sincerely appreciate all of their efforts,” said Paull.

Read More on Community Service
Volume 6, Issue 3, Posted 10:28 AM, 02.04.2014