Create an ‘Aprons4Alzheimers’ Movement in Your Community
1. Gather friends and sew aprons.
2. Sell the aprons at a farmer’s market, bazaar, or through a local merchant.
3. Donate proceeds to a local organization that provides Alzheimer’s respite care.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Primitive Quilts and Comforts Magazine, supported my cause by publishing the following article in the 2011 Fall Issue. The article appears in the Charitable Causes section of this delightful publication.

     While vacationing in Alaska I spent an afternoon wandering through fabric shops. On a whim, I purchased an apron pattern designed by Barbara Brunson of Vanilla House Design; after my vacation ended in Alaska I was heading to Florida to act as a full time caregiver for my parents. “Hmm,” I thought, “maybe I’ll have time to do a bit of sewing.” I had taken a sewing sabbatical and the thought of needles, thread, and fabric sounded like a creative adventure.

     After arriving in Florida I excitedly set up a sewing room. To my surprise, Mom, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, wanted to be part of the activities. Once an accomplished seamstress, I did not think she had the ability to undertake any sewing tasks. Mom surprised of us both with what she could accomplish. She could press under ¼-inch edges on apron ties, turn pockets to right side out then poke out neat little corners, and with great precision, she cut out baby bibs.

     My little sewing room became our daily retreat. I felt fortunate to stumble upon an activity we both enjoyed. Mom was at home with fabric, so as a treat for both of us I would take her to shop for a fresh batch of prints, swirls, dots, and stripes. Alzheimer’s had not yet damaged her talent for finding the right hue or pattern; she gave great advice on selecting coordinating fabric. Here’s the crazy part, the next day she would dress herself in stripes, prints, and colors that made her look as if she was headed to a Halloween party as a homeless bag lady.

     Sewing was therapeutic for both of us. We would sit side by side, not saying much, enjoying the feel of fabric and seeing the fruits of our labor in simple little items we stitched together. We both found a calm, peaceful place as we self medicated with fabric.

     Mom helped me with sewing tasks up until the last month of her life. I wrote a story about our sewing experience and shared it with my sister, Katie. She read my story during a mother-daughter banquet at her church and called to tell me how well it was received. “The audience loved it, Gwen; you’ve got to write more stories.” A few stories grew into a lovely little book that Katie and my brother Gordon helped me publish. Five months after standing at the grave of our parents, who had died with-in two weeks of each other, we stood together as we sold our book to help raise funds for Alzheimer’s respite care.

     Calico Gals fabric shop, in Syracuse, New York, was the first shop to let me set the books on their counter. When I offered an apron to display with the book, I was advised that I should make sure I was not violating a copyright law. I was nervous when I contacted Barbara Brunson but she immediately put me at ease, embraced the project, and gave me permission to continue to pair the book and apron. I donate all net proceeds from book and apron sales to organizations that provide Alzheimer’s respite care.

     Quilters Quarters, in Zephyrhills, Florida, allowed me to conduct an apron making class along with a book reading and book signing. Women who understand the magic of fabric weave a generous cloth of kindness. My sister and I have had such great support but we would love to include you in this worthwhile project.

     How can you help? As an individual, you can buy the book or if you are a shop owner, you could sell the book in your shop. I need volunteers to sew aprons and readers who will choose my book for their book club. My husband and I live full time on the road in a small travel trailer, we just may be coming you way. Please feel free to contact me by email. I would love to swing through your neighborhood, give an apron making class, do a reading and donate funds to benefit your community.

Please let me hear from you.
Gwen O’Leary

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