Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The quilt lady

Messenger photo by Sandy Mickelson
Betty Nielsen, of Varina, leads a program called Freedom Quilts, which provides quilts to families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here she counts the number of quilts ready to send as soon as the binding is sewn down.

Ameriz, 3, left, and Micelea, 5, Nielsen, granddaughters of Betty and Dennis Nielsen, of Varina, wrap themselves in a quilt that’s waiting to be finished.

Easing the pain

Varina woman’s 9/11 quilt project continues to help survivors heal
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

VARINA - Iowa's "Quilt Lady" just wanted to ease someone's suffering.

She didn't plan to be a hero.

Yet the Varina grandmother, recently inducted into the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame, is as much a hero to the families who lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as the heroes they lost.

"That's what they call me," said Betty Nielsen, fighting away the mist filling her eyes. "They call me the Quilt Lady."

She stops short of repeating the part about being a hero.

Nielsen and her husband, Dennis, and a group of women from the Varina Methodist and Catholic churches continue the work Nielsen started after the 9/11 attacks when she spearheaded an immediate call to make and send five quilts to families of victims. Sort of an "I'm so sorry" token from America's heartland.

One quilt would go to a family of a firefighter - requested by helper Patty Archer in honor of her brother, a fireman killed in an Albert City explosion.

Another would go to someone from the Pentagon disaster because both the Nielsens were in the Air Force. The other three would go to people with ties to Iowa...

Making a difference. Go read the rest of this story here.

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