“Quilting for Good” by Joyce Nyenhuis

May 7, 2024 | Life At Sunset, Senior Living

Residents throughout our communities are encouraged to pursue talents and hobbies that they are passionate about. Joyce Nyenhuis, an independent living resident at Manor & Villages, has turned her talent for quilting into an incredible act of service. Here is her story of quilting for good.

The Beginning

I am often asked when I first learned to quilt, but I believe the story starts when I first learned to sew. It was in grade school, and I learned for 4H. We made aprons and dishtowels using a treadle machine. It was not until after my children were born that I learned how to quilt – I was around 35 at the time and I attended a hand quilting class that was taught by a friend. The very first machine I used for quilting was a Kenmore machine, which was wonderful.

Favorite Quilting Projects

The quilt that hangs on the wall in my living room is one of my favorite projects to date. The colors are a testament to my personal style, and I have since used this quilt as inspiration for other accent pieces in my home. It was not a difficult pattern, which probably made it a more enjoyable project for me. Whenever I see it hanging on my wall, it just makes me happy.

 I have always loved making twin-sized bed quits – I find that you can experiment with fun patterns, and you always know that these quilts are being made for a special purpose; to keep children warm.

Church Quilting Club

The idea of “quilting for good” started with church quilting club. Every Tuesday morning at Hudsonville Reformed Church, a group of us meet to quilt together. We all have our gifts – some of use the machines, while others lay out pattern squares or help tie quilts. We truly could not accomplish what we do without the help of each person who attends. Most of our fabric has been donated by church members or members of the local community who have heard about our quilting club. I remember a time when we were blessed with two whole truckloads of fabric! We felt that God was calling us to use all of this donated fabric for something good. We began by asking our church for local organizations that might need warm quilts. The need was much greater than I had anticipated, but it gave our club a purpose and allowed us to spread the love of God throughout the community.

Something important about quilting club is that we do no selling. All quilts we make are given away. Many of them are infant or child sized – those are given to local organizations who offer support to young families. We also donate quilts to Wedgewood Christian Services, Holland Rescue Mission, and Jehovah Jireh. All of these places know to just call us when there is a need. We once had an organization call needing seven quilts as soon as possible. Our group rallied together and was able to provide them with those seven quilts that day. God has given us these talents and it just feels right to use them to help others.

Not only does quilting club benefit those receiving the quilts, but it also has been a great help to those who attend. I like to call the weekly time we spend together our comfort zone. Some of us have cancer or other illnesses and quilting club is where we can go to find enjoyment, even through the hardships of life. Not everyone who comes quilts – some just come to enjoy the company of friends. The visiting is what is so important.

Bringing Quilting to Manor & Villages

Since moving into independent living at Manor & Villages, I have enjoyed many afternoons in the quilting room. When I am in there, I always make sure to leave the door open. You’d be surprised how many people just stop in to visit with me. Whether they’ve quilted before or not, I want to make sure the quilting room is a place where people feel comfortable enough to come in and visit. It’s just a blessing to have this community!