Full Circle Quilts
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Kathleen Neiley, Founder of Full Circle Quilts on Oct 20, 2016
When people are facing a life challenge like cancer, injury or the loss of a loved one, they need the support of their friends and family. We know this is true, and we want to help, yet distance and other commitments prevent us from being able to help out in person. How can we provide that emotional support and physical comfort our loved ones want and need?
I had this problem when my sister-in-law, Shelley, living in Rhode Island was diagnosed with Metatastic Breast Cancer in 2013. My extended family was spread coast-to-coast, so I figured the only realistic way to bring them all together was to coordinate everyone via email and create a group gift that would not only provide the emotional support that Shelley would need but also provide the physical warmth and comfort the body needs.
I asked everyone in the family to send me a personal t-shirt of theirs, and to perhaps write something personal and affirmative on the shirts. I put them all together to make a t-shirt quilt that would actually meet some of Shelley's physical needs for warmth and comfort during her treatment, and also provide the emotional connection to each of them individually.
I sent the email out to nine family members, and received 30 t-shirts from friends and family who were grateful for the opportunity to show their support! We all know that people with a support group have better quality of life and do better in medical situations than those without a support system - we just don't have many meaningful ways to show that support.
Shelley received a unique gift that not only reminds her of each and every person in her personal circle of support, but also provides her something soft and warm to cover herself with during treatments, at home, on the couch - any time she needs a "group hug" to remind her that isn't going through this alone. Three years later, the quilt is still going strong, still being used, and still reminds her of how much she is loved.
Full Circle Quilts was born from this experience. We developed a web-based platform where a single person can initiate a quilt project of their own for a loved one and invite people via email to participate in creating a quilt. Full Circle Quilts coordinates the entire project, start-to-finish, making it easy for anyone to "make" a quilt for someone in their life who could benefit from the knowledge that they are loved and not on their journey alone.
The first 'official' Full Circle Quilt was made for a little girl, Brianna, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her swim coach coordinated a quilt for her to take with her to Utah where she was being treated. Swim teams from around the state of Wyoming sent t-shirts in for the project - even the US Olympic team sent in a shirt. Brianna continues to do well, and has been an active participant in making sure the Full Circle Quilt story goes forward, even modeling for the website!
For more information about Full Circle Quilts visit our website or visit us on Facebook.