Victoria Ann Morrison was a wife, mother, grandmother, and the best friend of Deborah Rogers, the founder of Victoria’s Quilts in the United States. She was also a cancer patient. One of the comments she made about her chemotherapy was that she got cold while she was laying in the treatment facility waiting for the day’s infusion to be over. After Victoria’s death, and while seeking comfort from the scriptures and prayer, Deborah was lead to Joshua 1:9 which states:
“Be strong and of good courage.
Do not be afraid or dismayed,
for the Lord is with you,
wherever you go.”
Deborah remembered Victoria’s comment about being cold and wanted to do something. Since Victoria made so many quilts in her life time, Deb thought that this would be a good place to start.
Victoria took the fear out of quilting. She said, “People aren’t perfect – why do quilts have to be?” Out of this grew Victoria’s Quilts.
In August of 1998, Betty Giffin of Ottawa learned about this wonderful work and brought the idea to Canada. She started slowly, inviting a handful of friends to discuss the possibility of groups getting together to make quilts. In its first year, Victoria’s Quilts Canada distributed 16 quilts to people with cancer.
In 2002 and 2003, we expanded to include eight branches outside the Ottawa area. Our non-quilting volunteer base grew to include more administrative help. As in the past, the number of quilts grew along with public awareness.
In 2004, with the help of Fabricland Distributors Inc. and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, we were able to worry less about funding and concentrate more on the making and delivery of quilts. This has always been our main focus and the acquisition of the new quilting frames and machines enabled us to provide more quilts to more patients in a more timely fashion.
2005 was a year of tremendous growth in many ways, and some inevitable struggles. As with most non-profit organizations, we felt the financial pinch brought on by many world disasters, but our volunteers came to our aid by developing innovative fundraising ideas.
We continued growing throughout 2006. With Quilt Canada being held in Ottawa, we were able to take advantage of having many quilters gathered in one place. Our presence at this event was well received and we reaped the benefits: we received more quilt requests, but also donations, both financial and “in kind”. We also opened more branches across Canada, thus allowing us to have more quilts delivered in person. Our branches are doing a wonderful job in their communities and we receive feedback from those who have received quilts telling us what a wonderful service we provide.
From humble beginnings, we continue to flourish: more than 800 volunteers meet in 20 groups in Ottawa and close to 30 branches across Canada. Each month, we distribute almost 400 quilts across the country.
And, while the production and distribution of the many quilts takes centre stage, we are fortunate to have an army that works tirelessly behind the scenes: Board Members, quilt packers and deliverers, group and branch coordinators, fundraisers, letter writers, and our many, many corporate supporters.
With the help of our volunteers, the community and blessings from above, we will continue to provide comfort, both physical and spiritual, to those struggling with cancer, and we will continue to grow until the day that cancer is no longer with us.