It’s amazing what you can find when you while away a few minutes looking through discarded magazines. There I was, idly flicking through an extremely old Reader’s Digest (June 1998) in the lunch room at work, when I came across an article about quilting. The words jumped out at me. “Even convicts are joyfully stitching”, it said. The article went on to describe how members of the Wellington Quilt Guild were teaching patchwork and quilting to women behind the bars at Wellington’s Arohata Women’s Prison.
Our club member June is the angel who initiated this programme , way back in October 1993. That’s five years before the Reader’s Digest article was written. June and three others started the ball rolling, and every Saturday since then June and her volunteers give up their time to help the prisoners. A few years later the volunteers were also asked to teach in the Drug Treatment Unit, so that means two programmes are run each Saturday. The new quilters are known as the “Shut-In Stitchers”.
Most of them had not sewn before and they usually start out with a basic design of squares. As they progress, some of them produce quite stunning an innovative quilts. The three local quilt clubs help out with donations of fabric, which is held in storage off site. They can request a particular colour to complete their quilts, and June and her helpers do their best to meet this need. From time to time June proudly brings in a selection of completed quilts to club meetings to show off the work of her “girls”. Their quilts brighten up their cell rooms, they stitch quilts for their children, and quilts for their Mums. They stitch their quilts with pride, and they are given away to their family members with much love.
June has given seventeen years to this cause, which is very dear to her heart. We applaud her dedication, and commitment, and wonder just how many women she has helped express their creativity with our wonderful craft. June, you and your helpers certainly are angels, and we are proud to know you.