Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs - Building Homes and Strengthening Communities

Highland Manor Senior Living

Story by Angela Taylor and Bronwyn Turner, The Daily News

Caption below

Members of the Highland Community Quilters, Debby Luton, from left, Peggy Winters, Eva Paterson, Sue Hill and Marice Lowe are trying to complete 50 quilts for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in La Marque to distribute to homeless veterans
Photo: Jennifer Reynolds, The Daily News

LA MARQUE — Marice Lowe, a retired factory worker from Indiana, had just moved into the Highland Manor Senior Living apartments in La Marque in June when she spotted the craft room with a perfect window spot for quilting.

When Judy Pokorny, community manager at the apartment complex, learned of her newest tenant’s hobby, she asked Lowe if she would be interested in forming a quilting class for residents and seniors in the area.

Within a month, Lowe had started a class.

“We made a flier and started a list for people who wanted to be involved,” Pokorny said. “Residents started signing up — and voilà — the quilting class was started.”

A Class Is Born

Lowe, who has an 8-foot frame she brings to the group sessions when they’re in the final stages of finishing the quilt, has been quilting for the past 10 years. She has made between 25 to 30 quilts and enjoys the camaraderie with other members of the group.

“The class kind of started on accident; however, I’m so happy that Judy asked me to start it,” Lowe said. “I also do various types of crafts for different occasions. I like to stay busy.”

The group, which consists of women and men, meets at 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays in the craft room of the complex, 301 Newman Road.

“We have such a good time,” Lowe said. “We just yak and work. I love it.”

Quilters On A Mission

Peggy Winters, also a resident of Highland Manor, joined the group after seeing the flier. She had made baby quilts in the past but never the big quilts until she joined the group.

Peggy’s daughter, Yvonne Allen, proposed a quilt donation project, and the newly named Highland Community Quilters took up the call.

Allen suggested the group make quilts for homeless veterans in the area.

“Once the suggestion of making quilts for veterans was made — the group was onboard,” Winters said. “I thought the idea of the quilting group was great and that if we could help anyone in need, especially veterans, then that would be worth the effort.”

‘We Are All Intertwined’

Debby Luton had never quilted — much less sewed anything. She immediately wanted to get involved and signed up to join the newly formed group.

“I was all for helping in whatever way I could,” Luton said. “After the word got out about helping veterans, the support has been tremendous. It’s a wonderful feeling to participate in this project. Although it’s a huge undertaking, it’s worth it.”

Another mainstay in the group — and new to quilting as well — is resident Eva Patterson, a La Marque native and retired instructional aide from the La Marque school district.

After seeing the sign-up sheet in the office one day, she decided it would be a good reason to learn a different way of sewing material together.

“Making these quilts is not only good to give to the veterans, but it has brought people together that may not have really met to share stories of our lives,” Patterson said. “Now, we know that we are all intertwined in this life because of God’s handy work.”

The group, now numbering more than a dozen, aims to complete 50 quilts and present them to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in La Marque to distribute to homeless veterans. The group members hope to finish the project by Veteran’s Day.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” Pokorny said. “These people are already limited in resources as it is, but they want to give.

“This is a sweet, sweet story about people willing to give back.”

Pitching In

Word of the project has spread through the complex and the community. Several women have offered to sew quilt squares at night in their home, including volunteers from Allen’s church, the Texas City Church of the Nazarene.

Robbie Yancy, of Highland Manor, donated a sewing machine and a roll of batting fabric. Shy Haywood and Mary Garibay donated material. Highland Manor owners David and Margery Koogler sent $100 to help cover costs.

Winters’ grandson Jeremy Allen designed a coat of arms to be included on labels placed on the quilts.

Joyce Hargis, a Walmart employee, helps in her spare time; as does Sue Hill, a collector for H-town Bail Bonds who now lives at Highland Manor.

“It’s a blessing just meeting all these ladies,” said Hill, who dropped by the craft room before hurrying to work. “I love the idea of what they’re doing.”

Rosita Berkstresser moved to Highland Manor from Pasadena and pitched in to help.

“This was something to do rather than look at four walls,” she said. “I enjoy just listening to the ladies.”

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