January 1, 2013

The Stone Soup Quilting Ministry

Since the founding of the Religious Society of Friends, Quaker women have engaged in altruistic and philanthropic activities to better the lives of others.  One of our recent postings described the work of Philadelphian Ann Parrish who, with like-minded Quaker women, founded The House of Industry to employ poor women, as well as the Aimwell School for the Free Instruction of Females to provide girls in poverty with the opportunity for education.  The concern for others that inspired these late 18th and early 19th century endeavors still motivates women in the Quaker community to help and comfort people in crisis or in unfortunate circumstances.

The Stone Soup Quilting Ministry is a modern-day example of an effort to provide care and comfort to those in need.  Associated with The Quaker Quilting Center of North Seattle Friends Church in Seattle, Washington, the ministry is a large, well-organized volunteer effort that produces approximately 100 quilts per year for long term cancer patients of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and for members of their families.  This Alliance, comprised of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the University of Washington Medical Center, and Seattle's Children's Hospital and Medical Center, conducts leading-edge research dedicated to eliminating cancer and related diseases, improving treatment and prevention, and caring for short- and long-term cancer patients.  Long-term cancer patients cared for by these facilities are usually far from home while experiencing medical crises that affect their entire families.

Entramce to the North Seattle Friends Church in Seattle, Washington.  Photograph
courtesy of the North Seattle Friends Church.
Just some of the quilts made by The Stone Soup Quilting Ministry members and
volunteers since 2004.  All photographs courtesy of The Stone Soup Quilting Ministry.
The organization of the huge volunteer effort that produces so many quilts is based on a fable about "stone soup".  The fable has passed down through time attributed to having occurred in various locales including Russia, Civil-War-Era America, and even Northern Kenya.  The story, as told on the North Seattle Friends web site, is about Russian soldiers begging food from the impoverished peasantry in a war-ravaged countryside and being refused at every turn.  Undaunted, the soldiers began to ask one after another household to contribute just a small amount of whatever they had toward the making of a mysterious soup of stones that would nourish the whole village.  The word passed, everyone shared something, and by the end of the day the stone soup had turned into a meal for all to enjoy.  According to the web site, "The soldiers' needs were generously met; no one had given more than he could afford to give; a spirit of community had been revivied; and people had acted on their natural sense of compassion."
The Stone Soup Quilting Ministry manages to produce large numbers of quilts by dividing the work into many small segments and asking each of the volunteer quilters for only a small commitment toward the completion of each quilt.  As stated on the Ministry web site: "The Christian directive to 'comfort the afflicted' is shared by people of all spiritual traditions.  We know that our quilts, given freely to cancer patients of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance are indeed a source of both physical and spiritual comfort.  The surprise has been in the blessed and enriched lives of the quilt makers!"
If you would like to donate 100% cotton fabric or contribute time to the quilt making of The Stone Soup Quilting Ministry, contact Patty Federighi at (206) 522-6513 in Seattle or send an email to Patty at pattyf@northseattlefriends.org.  Learn more about the North Seattle Friends and The Stone Soup Quilting Ministry by visiting http://www.northseattlefriends.org.
Personal correspondence with Patty Federighi.
(c)  Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2013.

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