Stitching hearts together

By Beth Donze

Sometimes the most gratifying stories encountered by Catholic newspaper journalists are the stories that happen “after the stories.”

I learned of one of those today.

First the backstory.

Over the summer, I met with Katie Windham, St. Cletus School’s talented and enthusiastic librarian, to get the details on a special project she and her students had launched the previous school year.

Sitting at Katie’s kitchen table, conversing over coffee and a delicious cake my hostess had kindly prepared for our morning interview, Katie told me she had spent a good part of her summer break making  a quilt out of fabric swatches her students had donated in early 2011.

The quilt, Katie told her students, would remind the world that even the smallest acts of kindness (in this case, modest offerings of 5-by-8-inch pieces of fabric) could make a difference in the world, given their contributions to “the bigger picture” (a cheerful and cosy quilt).

Making St. Cletus’ quilt even more special was its intended destination: a bed inside New Orleans Catholic Worker, an Uptown house that provides meals, shelter and spiritual support to the poor.

I left Katie’s house that day eager to write the quilt’s story. It appeared in the Aug. 6 issue of the Clarion Herald, along with a couple of photos of Katie’s exquisite handiwork.

Fast-forward to today.

I received an e-mail from Katie saying that she had been meaning to write me for weeks and was just now catching her breath after the start of another school year (Did I tell you Katie has three children ages 6, 5 and 6 months?). The quilt was completely finished, Katie said, and was poised for delivery to the New Orleans Catholic Worker home on Constance Street.

But here is my favorite part of her e-mail: Katie received a phone call from an 87-year-old woman who had read about St. Cletus’ quilt project in the Clarion Herald. The woman, who lives near St. Cletus, contacted Katie to say she would like to donate fabric from her collection for use in future service projects.

“(The woman) used to sew for a bridal boutique and make dresses for Mardi Gras balls back in the day,” Katie writes. “She now makes little baby clothes and donates them to West Jefferson Hospital. I am going to go visit her on Thursday. Isn’t that marvelous?”

Yes, it most certainly is!

I am so gratified to have had a small role in building a bridge between these two very special women.

Who knows what else will be stitched together as a result of their big hearts and creative talents?

Stay tuned …


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