When there is a Johnson County resident in need, the Buffalo Quilting Gals come to the rescue!
Thanks to handmade quilts donated by club members, numerous organizations across Johnson County, Wyoming are feeling the warmth.
Herd & Scene recently spoke with the club’s founder, Vikki Chenette, to learn more about the Buffalo Quilting Gals’ heartwarming mission and what drives these talented ladies to giving so much back to the community.
The Buffalo Quilting Gals first evolved from a “Block of the Month” group Vikki put together upon first moving to Johnson County in 1995. By 1996, Buffalo Quilting Gals was formed and immediately began bringing community members together. Today the club is comprised of about 35 members.
What is it about the hobby and skills of quilting that strengthens a community?
As Vikki says, “Historically, American women have gathered to share patterns, help each other work on large quilts, and make quilts to benefit local charities. Most people are acquainted with quilts, even if they do not have a recent quilter in the family. Novice sewers are also welcomed in most quilt clubs, which provide activities for people of all skill levels and backgrounds to learn and socialize together.”
As club members help each other out, share ideas, and socialize, an incredibly good deed is done for several of the county’s charitable organizations. Each month, between two and five of the Buffalo Quilting Gals’ quilts are donated to Quilts of Valor. “These quilts are respectfully presented at monthly American Legion and Buffalo Senior Center Veteran Breakfasts,” says Vikki. So far, the Buffalo Quilting Gals have donated over 100 quilts to Quilts of Valor alone.
“In November 2017 we donated 30 quilts for children who are served by the Johnson County Family Crisis Center.” Other organizations that club members have donated to, in addition to individual residents in need, include Johnson County Search and Rescue, Bread of Life Food Pantry, St. Francis Animal Shelter, Cancer Resource Center, Johnson County Public Library, Jim Gatchell Museum, Big Horn National Forest Centennial, Buffalo Senior Center, Boys and Girls Club of the Big Horns, Johnson County Arts and Humanities Council, Carlat Music Foundation, and Mothers of Pre-Schoolers. Many of these organizations raffle off the donated quilt to help raise funds for their mission.
For the Buffalo Quilting Gals, motivation to keep doing the hard work they do comes in the form of inspiration and being uplifted by the lives they touch. For Vikki, the most inspiring moments are during the “very moving” Quilt of Valor presentations. “Often there are tears mixed with smiles of appreciation by veterans touched by such tangible symbols of our appreciation for their service. This is why our club has decided to concentrate our efforts on lovingly making [and] donating quilts to older veteran men and women of the WWII, Korea, and Vietnam conflicts.”
Quilting takes an incredible amount of time, and in order to accomplish their own mission, the Buffalo Quilting Gals are working on new ways to serve even more members of the Johnson County community. “A quilt can take anywhere from a few days or many months to make, depending on the complexity of the pattern. Many of us are concentrating on making simpler patterns and machine quilting rather than hand quilting in order to fulfill our goals for comforting veterans and at-risk youth with quilts,” says Vikki.
Currently, the club meets the second Saturday of every month at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at 9 a.m., and at the Buffalo Library during the month of March. In August, they skip their formal monthly meeting as many club members are volunteering their time at the Johnson County Fair. All year long, the Buffalo Quilting Gals are creating new quilts to be treasured, helping local organizations, and giving to those in need.
Here’s just a glimpse at how busy they are, and by how many people their talent and dedication is making a difference for:
In March members of the Buffalo Quilting Gals, “present a free public Open House at the Johnson County Library Quilt Display during National Quilt Month. In June, members present a Kids Quilt Day Camp to teach ten youth, ages nine and up, how to make a lap quilt. In August, BQG members help display quilts and needlework entered by county residents in Open Exhibits at the Johnson County Fair. In October, BQG displays small Pink Ribbon Quilts in businesses, health care facilities, and retail establishments to promote Breast Cancer Awareness and Prevention. In November, members annually make 50-100 Christmas Stockings for Buffalo Senior Center to fill and donate to local elderly folks.”
Stitch by stitch, the Buffalo Quilting Gals are making a difference for the entire Johnson County community. Their gifts of handmade beauty and warmth will be treasured for years to come by recipients and their families. While the number of lives they touch through their quilting is immeasurable, we think it’s safe to say that all of Johnson County’s residents appreciate the dedication and hard work of the Buffalo Quilting Gals.