Americans felt a personal loss when enemies of democracy destroyed the twin towers in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, and from that tragedy came a plethora of expressions of grief and dismay.
And so it was with clients of the Conway Human Development Center who felt an uneasiness about the attack even if they were unable to comprehend or recognize its impact.
Thus it was incumbent on two staff members of the center to do something patriotic, something therapeutic and something not solely for themselves but also for the populace of the place where hundreds of individuals of limited capacity are being treated.
The clients might not have fully understood the enormity of what had occurred, but they could certainly feel a horrible sense of loss, a sense of defeat that surrounded Americans during the uneasy days that followed.
And it came to pass that on that fateful day, Linda Hargues and Mary Ingram, CHDC rehabilitation instructors, were overcome by a compulsion of thought that “something needed to be fixed, created, perhaps stitched.”
They undertook a project, the creation of a quilt that would take 11 years to complete and provide a means of finding succor in its being. The clients worked on the project in their spare time.
The staff that orchestrated the work was aware that the stitches were not perfect, that many had been done through tear- filled eyes. The creation was to become therapy for those instructors and the individuals they taught. The work became a product of release. Most of the people who worked on the quilt were diagnosed with severe to profound intellectual disabilities and had difficulty expressing themselves.
There was something different about this special project that inspired everyone to be more expressive. Everyone was engaged, a part of this important project. Something was being created right before their eyes. One thing is certain, that this quilt is not about disabilities, or handicaps, or differences. This quilt is about strength, perseverance, and unity.
After 11 years the quilt found a home in training area 75 “work adjustment” where it was displayed until it began to be shown in other venues in the CHDC.
“The quilt,” say Hargues and Ingram, “represents more than patterns and stitches and even beautiful hand-prints of people who worked doggedly on it.” They feel it represents the resilience of the American spirit which crosses all barriers.”
At this point in time, the colorful quilt resides in the CHDC Volunteer Council building where it decorates a primary wall that commands the attention of visitors, who on entering the place, admire its character and beauty.
The quilt has been recently titled “The CHDC Memorial Quilt.” It has been presented at the State Parent Association meeting and displayed at a recent meeting of the state Development Disabilities Services.