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Saturday, June 15, 2024

“It’s Not Complicated” to Stitch Blankets with Quilting Group for People in Need – Volunteers to Gather Locally June 5

Rose Phalon of Quilting for a Cause NJ delivers hand-made quilts to Blairstown Police Chief Scott Johnsen. The quilts, made by volunteers, can be given by police officers to anyone in need of some comfort. Photo by Joe Phalon.

“It’s not complicated,” says Rose Phalon, founder of Quilting for a Cause NJ, a volunteer group dedicated to creating hand-made quilts for people who are homeless and those in need.

The organization, which has made almost 9,000 quilts for others, is starting a group in Blairstown, and Phalon says anyone with an interest in volunteering to help others is welcome. No experience needed. The first meeting is June 5 between 9 a.m. and noon at the Masonic Lodge, 11 Stillwater Road in Blairstown. 

Phalon started the group when her mother-in-law passed away and left behind a treasure trove of fabric. With a “stash”—as quilters call it—bigger than she could possibly use for her family, she began sewing quilts for her husband to take with him to give to homeless people he encountered on the streets of New York City, where he worked.

In January 2017, in observance of the Rev. Martin Luther King National Day of Service, Phalon invited a few relatives and friends over to their Pequannock home to sew more quilts for distribution. In short order, Quilting for a Cause NJ was born, and the group of 11 quickly grew.

This community outpouring of like-minded volunteers quickly outgrew Phalon’s living room, and they moved to Senior House in Pequannock, which can accommodate many of the volunteers, who now number about 90. Their youngest volunteer is just 9 years old and the oldest celebrated her 86th birthday recently.

Volunteers at Quilting for a Cause NJ hand made these quilts to be given to veterans, the homeless and anyone else in need. The organization will be starting a Blairstown group June 5, at the Masonic Lodge on Stillwater Road at 9 a.m. Anyone interested is invited. Photo by Joe Phalon.

Phalon says that the vision of the group is that “to someone who has nothing to call their own, a warm quilt handed to them personally from someone who made it with their own two hands can truly warm the soul as well as the body of the recipient. We strive to make as many of these connections as possible.” You can read more on their website (ABOUT OUR GROUP | QuiltingforaCauseNJ).

Phalon says in seven years they’ve never said no to helping people in need. The group has since donated their warm creations to Family Promise in Newton, women’s shelters and Habitat for Humanity in Washington, as well as to help homeless shelters in Paterson and beyond.

“Our quilts have also made it into the arms of victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Florida and the victims of the 2018 volcano eruptions in Hawaii. Foster care organizations have also received our quilts as well as the homeless in areas as far and wide as Philadelphia, Indiana, California, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, Canada, Haiti and Guatemala,” says Phalon.

They have donated to OASIS—A Haven for Women and Children in Paterson, Covenant House and Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in New York, St. John’s Soup Kitchen of Newark and many more. Phalon says they are always open to ideas for donation sites.

They create baby quilts, lap quilts and twin-sized with queen-sized quilts for distribution to Habitat for Humanity houses. 

Unhoused and underserved veterans are particularly important to Quilting for a Cause NJ. They have donated quilts to advocacy groups such as Operation Chill Out for Veterans in New Jersey. And on Veterans Day, they gift service-themed quilts to anyone who served their country through various veterans organizations.

In addition to using cotton fabric and cotton batting, Quilting for a Cause NJ uses cotton or cotton/polyester thread. Patterns are based on the size of fabric pieces that are donated. The quilts are machine quilted on sewing machines or a long arm quilting machine.

This flagship quilt of Quilting for a Cause NJ was made of 49 panels sewn by 49 different volunteers. Photo by Joe Phalon.

Donations of fabric, thread and quilt batting are solicited and gratefully accepted. They have steadily increased their production of quilts from 703 quilts in 2017 to now 8,888. 

An invaluable volunteer is Phalon’s husband Joe, whom she says, she could not do this without. He says his role in the organization is quite simple: “I lift things up and put them down,” though he does a lot more than that. 

He is no longer solely responsible for deliveries, as Haydon Corp. of Wayne (haydoncorp.com) has joined the cause to ship the quilts across the country. Quilting for a Cause NJ also coordinates with other organizations to distribute their quilts.

Now residing in Blairstown, the Phalons are expanding Quilting for a Cause NJ to soon have meetings on the first Wednesday of each month at the Masonic Lodge at 11 Stillwater Road, starting June 5 from 9 a.m. to noon. Anyone who would like to volunteer or make a donation is welcome to call her at 973-534-7936.

Phalon gladly welcomes all volunteers to join the cause.

“No experience necessary. No quotas. Just bring your sewing machine,” says Phalon.

You can work with the group, or you can pick up supplies and sew at home, she added.  

Desiree Dunn
Desi L. Dunn, Writer
Managing Editor at Desiree L. Dunn, LLC

Born & educated in NY with an Environmental Science degree from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Desi's family resides in Hardwick with a young teen and several spoiled pets. Considering northwest Jersey to be a true gem, her commitment to the people and environs is exemplified by the many different jobs she's had - municipal & county official, election clerk, open space plan writer, newspaper & radio journalist, grant writer, events coordinator and farm market manager as well as retail, waitressing, archaeological digger and once for a short while in a very huge warehouse.

Her favorite was as a reporter for many years with the Recorder newspapers, Blairstown Press, Paulinskill Chronicle, Gannett publications plus WNTI Public Radio producing public affairs and human interest stories on-air.

She often has her camera ready to capture interesting people and events. She's thrilled to now serve as RVE's Managing Editor, helping fellow writers hone their skills and show you the issues as well as treasures that exist in North Warren, through their eyes.