Friends square off against cancer with quilt


November 02, 2001|By Lesa Jansen | Lesa Jansen,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THEY'VE BEEN meeting weekly for coffee for more than 15 years.

They're friends, women who live on a lane in a Mount Airy neighborhood, have shared joys and disappointments, and struggled over child-raising issues - issues that for some have evolved into grandparent questions.

But now they are making a difference in the fight against the No. 1 health issue for women today: breast cancer.

The seven have joined thousands from across the country, each making a handcrafted quilt square in honor of someone who has survived breast cancer or in memory of a loved one who died from the disease.

"Everybody knows somebody" affected by breast cancer, said Beth Esquerre, a group member.

Collectibles manufacturer Enesco, famous for its "Precious Moments" collection, is sponsoring the effort.

"Our principal consumers are women and what issue is more important to women today than breast cancer and breast health," said Donna Shaults, manager of corporate communications.

The company hopes to receive 2,002 quilt squares to make into 50 king-size quilts. These quilts, along with a profile telling of the inspiration behind each square's design, will be donated to the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations. The quilts will be used in fund-raising efforts to support awareness and programs.

Karen Renshaw, whose sister is a breast cancer survivor, gave the group the idea. Liz Elliott, an experienced quilter, donated fabric and helped the women design individual patterns.

Some, like Esquerre, had never picked up a needle. "I was game for it though," she said. "I want to try to make women's lives better."

Candy Schoelen, a nurse at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, said that making her square is particularly significant. "This week, a friend is having a mastectomy," she said. "That's put more meaning into it for me."

Dee Hardin said she designed her square to honor a former member of their coffee group, an 85-year-old woman who is a breast cancer survivor. Lori O'Steen said she felt that awareness will save countless lives such as her mother's, whose cancer has been in remission for seven years.

The Precious Moments Pink Quilt Collection is the first national effort to put together a quilt collection for breast cancer awareness.

Mount Airy Net

Mount Airy Net can't keep its pantry stocked. The organization, which helps families in crisis in four counties in the Mount Airy area, has seen a decrease in donations.

"We help those in need in all kinds of emergencies, from helping people make the co-payment for a prescription to paying their heating bills, to clothes and food," said Jean Colburn, director of Mount Airy Net. "But there's been a downturn in donations since the [terrorist] crisis, and we're having trouble keeping food in our pantry."

Colburn also said need has increased.

"We've been giving out more than usual in the last few months because more people are losing their jobs, companies are hiring people for fewer hours, and also more people are learning about Mount Airy Net," she said.

During an average week, Mount Airy Net provides food for up to seven families. Churches, schools and Scout groups collect food.

Colburn also is preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas drives to provide holiday meals, toys and gifts for residents in need.

Information: 301-829-0472.

Harvest Ball

Celebrating the season in style, Mount Airy seniors and South Carroll High School students are making final preparations for the annual Harvest Ball. The theme is "Catch a Dream."

The ball will run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. tomorrow at Mount Airy Senior Center. Music will be provided by a disc jockey.

South Carroll horticulture students are making corsages and boutonnieres for participants. Students will attend and socialize with senior citizens.

"It's an opportunity to dress up and go out for a special evening, but it's also psychologically providing self-esteem, the social aspect of friendship and it gives people the opportunity to see the senior center in a different light," said Olivia Schrodetzki, director of the center.

Mount Airy Jaycees will provide transportation to seniors reluctant to drive at night.

Rides or information: 301-829- 2407 or 410-795-1017.

`Older Adult Sunday'

Recognizing the service of senior members, Mount Airy's Calvary United Methodist Church is sponsoring "Older Adult Sunday" at its 11 a.m. service Nov. 11.

The church wants to honor older members who will participate as acolytes, greeters, ushers, prayer leader, liturgist and readers.

Former or retired choir members also will participate.

The church is 403 S. Main St.

Lesa Jansen's Southwest neighborhood column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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