Legacy quilt goes to comfort recoveries

April 1, 2014

By Kevin Vandenburg

A rare quilt made by famous Issaquah resident Beryl Baxter was gifted late last year to a foundation that helps women battling cancer.

JoAnne Matsumura obtained the quilt from Baxter’s estate and then donated it to Northwest Hope and Healing. The nonprofit organization then raffled it online through its website, and Matsumura matched the funds raised.

Contributed This Beryl Baxter quilt was donated to Northwest Hope & Healing and raised more than $3,610 for Puget Sound-area women diagnosed with breast or gynecological cancer.

This Beryl Baxter quilt was donated to Northwest Hope & Healing and raised more than $3,610 for Puget Sound-area women diagnosed with breast or gynecological cancer.

Baxter, born in 1912, was a member of the Bush and Wold families, pioneering clans of the Issaquah Valley. The Quilt Lady, as she was called, made more than 100 quilts by hand. On average, she made one quilt per month during her heyday, all displaying diverse patterns and exact hand stitching. She died in 1999.

“Her quilts are highly sought after and will be even more valuable as time presses on,” Matsumura said. “She probably had more that we don’t know about.”

Northwest Hope and Healing gives one-time grants through Swedish Medical Center to local women with breast or gynecologic cancer. Grants are based on need, not income, and recipients are determined by the foundation’s guidelines.

The grants pay for necessities like groceries, phone bills and childcare. They do not cover patient care.

Finding a Baxter quilt isn’t easy, and Matsumura got the quilt-top only. She wanted to give the item to Northwest Hope and Healing, but she needed the help of her friends to ready the quilt for donation. Patricia Jones, a professional quilter, volunteered to hand-tie and complete the quilt for free. Matsumura then asked others to help her appraise the quilt.

“They were pleased to be able to see this quilt just to see it,” she said.

The winning ticket was drawn in December, and the anonymous winner lives in Olympia. In total, the quilt raised more than $3,610 for Northwest Hope and Healing’s Patient Assistance Fund. The fund financially supports women in the Puget Sound area diagnosed with breast or gynecological cancer. The grant has helped more than 1,970 women since 2000.

“It brought it all full-circle,” Shari Sewell, executive director of Northwest Hope and Healing, said. “This quilt was created in Issaquah and the funds that it raised will help women who live in this community.”

How to help

Make a donation to Northwest Hope & Healing, to help local women battling breast or gynecologic cancer, by emailing Shari Sewell at shari@nwhopeandhealing.org , or call 206-215-2888.

Tricia Matteson, the oncology social worker at Swedish/Issaquah, awards grants from Northwest Hope and Healing. She said the support for nonmedical expenses makes an impact for women fighting with cancer.

“It tells them there’s strangers out there who care,” Matteson said. “It really makes a difference in ways that seem bigger than I imagined.”

She said the grants from Northwest Hope and Healing have also paid for rent, electric bills and gas. Matteson, who works face-to-face with recipients, described a woman who received support from the nonprofit. The woman needed regular hospital visits for treatment, but had to rely on friends for rides to and from the hospital. She started to feel like she was a burden on them, always using their gas. Her situation and need fit Northwest Hope and Healing guidelines, so Matteson was able to supply the woman gift cards for gas. Now she doesn’t feel guilty about asking for rides.

“It doesn’t take away the cancer,” Matteson said, “but it’s a really beautiful way to help someone.”

Christine Smith founded Northwest Hope and Healing in 2000. Smith, a mother of two boys, received much support from her friends and family during her treatments for cancer. She wanted to give the same help to other mothers.

“She would go in for treatments and she would see kids who would stay in the waiting room for four, five hours at a time while their mom’s in getting her treatment,” Sewell said. “Christine just thought, ‘You know what? This isn’t right, that, here I am with all this support and there are other women out there who don’t have anything.’ And she wanted to pay it forward in a sense.”

Northwest Hope and Healing also provides “Healing Baskets” to all female patients diagnosed with breast cancer at the Swedish/Issaquah as well as at all other Swedish locations. Each basket contains different presents, but many include hand-made notecards, hard candy, cozy socks and teddy bears. Volunteers donate items and help create the baskets, and during the school year, a special-needs student from the Seattle School District assembles and delivers the baskets as part of job-skills training.

“We have one employee, but dozens of incredible volunteers that make all this happen,” Sewell said. “We are small and mighty, and it’s all from the heart.”



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