... No place for hate ...
Quilters (left to right) Priscilla Gray, Betty Yaffe and Ann Doherty. (Photo by Jack Beckley).
A group of ladies come together on Tuesday mornings at the Milano Senior Center to share their time and talent and to work on handcrafted stitched projects. Often times, the items being created are destined for grandchildren, but, just as often the workers are making lap robes for the Soldiers' Home or afghans for the children's hospital ward. Back in the Spring, some of the group had worked on creating a quilt for babies with AIDS.
Across town, in the evening hours, a group of citizens hold regular meetings as the nine members of the Melrose Human Rights Commission. This year they were concerned with implementing the "No Place for Hate Campaign." The Campaign is an initiative developed by the National Anti-Defamation League. One of the possible activities, proposed at the April meeting, was to have a quilt created to illustrate the value of diversity in local communities. Present at that meeting was Jack Beckley, Director of the Council on Aging and Betty Yaffe who knew exactly how to get the quilt created. At the Senior Center there was talent, materials, and willing hearts and fingers.
The ladies of the handcrafts group were asked to make a quilt and they accepted the task. The Human Rights Commission members asked that a work be created which illustrates the community aspect of America as expressed by Jesse Jackson:
"America is not like a blanket - one piece of unbroken cloth, the
same color, the same texture, the same size. America is more
like a quilt - many pieces, many colors, many sizes - all woven
and held together by a common thread."
First, the ladies went to the supply cabinet and selected cotton materials, which had been donated to the Senior Center for project use. They agreed upon the need for multiple colors and various motifs. The overall design of the quilt was made by Betty Yaffe, a graduate of the Boston Museum School of Art. She is also the patient leader of those workers who like to hand quilt, and contributed many extra hours of her time to ensure the authentic handmade details. The borders were all cut and appliqued by her hand.
There was a need for the quilt to be finished in a somewhat timely fashion and so the expert on machine quilting, Priscilla Gray, offered to lend her high skill in aligning the seams and blocks. This meant many hours of arranging the blocks with precision to ensure the symmetry of the finished work. Assisting Priscilla with these tasks was Ann Stevens. When it was decided to embroider a portion of the quotation at the top of the quilt, Ann Doherty set to work with her skills in embroidery. These several ladies put forth as much time and effort as was needed to finish these tasks by carrying parts of the project home for completion and returning the completed sections to the Senior Center. All worked together at the Senior Center and the finished project was completed in about three months.
The Human Rights Commission members were duly impressed at the magnificence of the finished quilt. The ladies had exceeded all expectations!
The Education Chair of the Melrose Human Rights Commission, Louise Mason, had scheduled a display of their brochures at the Melrose Public Library during October; the quilt adds greatly to this display. Working with Ms. Mason, assistant Library Director Lois McMullin offered to hang the quilt in the reception area where it has been viewed with pleasure by many patrons. The local Library has long been displaying the work of talented Melrosians and here is another example. It will continue to hang in the window to the left of the stairs until early November. After it is taken down from the window, it will go on a brief tour of the various senior housing locations throughout the City and may eventually be on permanent display at City Hall.
The theme of community diversity has been well demonstrated by all those involved in this project: the various City Departments, the ladies at the senior center, those who donated materials for use as they were needed "....all woven and held together by a common thread."
November 3, 2000