Giving Back

Gena Bloemendaal

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Giving Back
GENA BLOEMENDAAL

 

Sadness. Anger. Frustration. A powerful surge of these emotions prompted quilter Ami Simms to begin the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative to raise funds for Alzheimer's research. The effort stemmed from several years of caring for her mother and watching her struggle with the debilitating disease. The latest statistics are startling. According to a 2007 report by the Alzheimer's Association, someone develops Alzheimer's every 72 seconds. There are currently over 5 million people in the United States who suffer from the disease, and the costs for caring for this population exceed $148 billion annually. (Learn more at alz.org.)

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative includes a traveling quilt exhibit, "Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece," which has been touring since August '06 and will continue showing until July '09. So far, over 166,000 people have seen the exhibit and have been deeply touched at what the quilts symbolize. "This is a difficult exhibit to see," says Simms, "There's great sadness and loss, but the quilts also tell of love, courage and hope. People say they feel better having seen the quilts."

Shortly after the exhibit started touring, Simms was inspired to begin a fund-raising effort called Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts. Anyone who quilted was invited to make a 9"x12" art quilt on any theme and donate it to the cause. The quilts are sold or auctioned off with all proceeds donated directly to Alzheimer's research. As of July, over 1,500 quilts have been donated, raising over $80,000 for the cause.

"Not a day goes by that I don't check in a quilt and have to stop to wipe my eyes," says Simms. Many of the quilts include dedications and artist's statements, which can be found along with photos of the quilts at alzquilts.org.

 

Get a coffee-table view of the 52 quilts that are featured in the traveling exhibit, "Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece." The book, which goes by the same title, includes information on each quilt and the artist. Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece is $20.00 and can be purchased at alzquilts.org. Proceeds go directly to Alzheimer's research. (Read more about the book on page 73.)

 

To contribute to Ami's efforts to support ongoing Alzheimer's research, you can purchase the book, Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece; purchase a Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts quilt; or make and donate an art quilt (no larger than 9"x12"). For full rules on registering the quilt and where to send it, read the instructions at amisimms.com/hehowtodoqu.html. Or visit alzquilts.org.

 

Note: The August/September "Giving Back" listed an incorrect Web site for the Cangleska women's shelter. The correct address is cangleska.org.

 

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