The Allatoona Quilters’ Guild (AQG) based in Acworth, has taken the art of quilting to an extreme level, in the most positive way. Founded in 1982 with 10 members, the Guild presently has 79 members, women ages 40 and older, hailing from several Northwest Georgia counties, and beyond the Southeast. Guild membership is open to anyone by completing an application with a $35 annual fee.
One word describes this committed group of passionate quilters: community. “The Guild is forever focused on serving the community that has supported us through the years,” said Carolyn Shea, the community service chairwoman.
Under her leadership, AQG engaged with the Acworth Police Department (APD) in 2007, providing officers with comfort quilts to hand out on calls. Since the initial collaboration, AQG has made and delivered more than 1,000 quilts to APD, which then were distributed for hurricane relief efforts; donated to SafePath (a children’s advocacy center); used to minister to elderly nursing home residents; and shared with neighboring Kennesaw Police Department.
The relationship with APD continues, and, in 2021, Chief Wayne Dennard asked AQG to make stuffed bears out of old police uniforms. Guild members answered the call and produced 75 tiny police bears that now ride along in APD cars, to be given out at officers’ discretion. When a child’s first introduction to law enforcement is with a police bear, surely the positive first impression will be a lasting one. More police bears are planned for 2022.
The Guild also has been a constant contributor to Ryan’s Case for Smiles, a charitable organization “helping kids cope with cancer” by providing pillowcases to children throughout the Atlanta area and beyond. Pillowcases have brightened the spirits of children at Atlanta children’s hospitals and at camp events, as well as others who are hospitalized. In 2021, the Guild contributed more than 800 pillowcases.
The dedicated and mission-driven Guild members have remained committed under the unique circumstances caused by the pandemic the past two years. AQG members enjoyed an annual retreat held at Red Top Mountain State Park in March 2020, just before the lockdown. April’s meetings were canceled, but members were determined not to be deterred, and began meeting via Zoom in May, which they have continued since. Throughout 2020 and 2021, 30-40 members have attended four monthly Zoom meetings and 15-20 have gathered for Zoom Sit-n-Sews.
Sit-n-Sews are often all-day events, and a great time for connection and fun. Members remained in touch at parking lot pickups and dropoffs held at the Roberts School Community Center in downtown Acworth, their normal meeting location. Communication continued with emails and a monthly newsletter.
“We kept moving forward while the world was on hold,” said the 2020-21 AQG president, Sue Baumgartel of Canton. Other officers who led the Guild through such a challenging time include Vice President Daryl Miller of Dallas, Secretary Barbara Means of Alpharetta, Treasurer Sue Zabell of Marietta and Community Service Director Carolyn Shea of Acworth.
Members are grateful to still feel “whole” and actively engaged in the community. Everyone has been encouraged by the ongoing communication during the pandemic and they hope to resume in-person monthly meetings at the Roberts School Community Center later this year.
While quilters of yesteryear gathered for quilting bees in a home, where the group worked to make several quilts in a sitting, AQG members availed themselves of modern technology, to stay connected and productive. Programs that continued through the pandemic are Block of the Month, virtual lectures and workshops, as well as a 2021 virtual retreat. A tremendous side benefit of video conferencing has been the ability to offer programs led by national and international speakers that otherwise would have been unattainable, due to travel expenses.
On Sept. 21, 2021, Allatoona Quilters’ Guild was recognized at the Acworth Board of Aldermen meeting, with a proclamation from Mayor Tommy Allegood. The Guild was recognized “for their many talents and compassion in providing aid and comfort with hundreds of quilts they have woven throughout those years benefitting the Acworth community.”
The continued efforts of the AQG members, who volunteer their time and talent to create comfort quilts, pillowcases and stuffed police bears to be dispersed throughout the community and beyond, are truly a labor of love. For information, visit www.aqguild.org.
2022 Allatoona Quilters’ Guild Officers
• President Cindy Christenson
• Vice Presidents Jill Kirkland and Nancy Klump
• Treasurer Sue Zabell
• Secretary Pat Trapanese
• Webmaster Kim Ayers.
– Vicki Davis, an Atlanta native, frequently visited her parents’ hometown of Acworth. She moved to the area 32 years ago with her husband and sons. Family is her focus; writing is her passion.