September 10, 2017 ~ I suppose I stood out just a little last Thursday on Long Island. I was driving back and forth in a bright green hatchback, stopping to take pictures of just about everything.
When I parked in the Long Island Academy lot to grab a snap of the recreation centre next to it I noticed how many cars were parked in front of that school.
Just as I was thinking I must have been confused that the school had been closed right down, a beaming smiling woman suddenly appeared in one of the school’s windows.
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Then she waved at me.
I waved back and moved to get a photo of the school front. Then I heard a sing-song voice shout out the window at me:
“YOU CAN COM’IN, YA KNOOOOOOW!!”
I went to the window and peered in through the screen to see a group of women all looking back at me, smiling and laughing and holding fabric.
Of course I just had to go in!
Those women are the Long Island Quilters Group. We chatted and joked, over the sounds of the start/stop purr of sewing machines.
I bought tickets on a quilt raffle (Fingers crossed!) and they told me about their group. They explained how they secured government funding to buy sewing machines and other needed equipment.
Barbara Colbourne told me they are grateful for the $22,000 they received from the Federal Government’s New Horizons for Seniors Program, which provides funding for community-based projects.
The money was used to buy sewing machines, a serger, and a series of very large cutting mats which, I was told, can be very pricey.
The women are starting their fourth year quilting together.
The school board permits them to use several classrooms in empty Long Island Academy. The building will see no more students, but the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District still keeps the building heated, the lights on, and the snow cleared while it is in the board’s possession.
The women in the Long Island Quilters Group buy their own fabric and work on personal projects, or projects for charity, all in a big former classroom together.
They use another former classroom for ironing, and so this arrangement really gives them a lot of room for working.
Members share sewing know-how. More novice quilt-makers in the group learn from the veterans. They joyfully pointed out Madeline Burton as their “instructor”. Madeline said she has been sewing all her life and some of the other women chimed in, naming the wedding dresses and other significant garments that Madeline has sewn down through the years.
Even when the hosts are lovely, there comes a time to hit the road. And soon I headed back to my hatchback, raffle tickets in hand. I was smiling the whole way walking back because those ladies were just so inspiringly friendly.
That meeting with the Long Island Quilters is proof that smiles are contagious.
And I thought how wonderful it is that a closed down school on Long Island, that could be so deathly quiet, is chinched to the gunnels every Thursday with the sounds of life, laughter…
and sewing machines.
My day was made.