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La Leche League Keeps You Warm At Night

Andrea Ostrowski
Stevens PA USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 42 No. 4, October-November-December 2006, p. 78

Some women from the Greater Ephrata La Leche League Group in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA are celebrating the La Leche League 50th Anniversary in Lancaster County style—with a quilt. In the traditional horse-and-buggy Mennonite community that our Group serves, making a quilt is a common way to honor special people, anniversaries, and life events. Ruth Auker and Erma Rissler, two long-time La Leche League members, decided that the 50th Anniversary of an organization that has supported them for years was just such an occasion. Both have been involved in La Leche League since their children were babies and are now grandmothers of breastfed children. Erma still serves as the Group's Treasurer even though her "baby" is 14 years old. Ruth stays in the background, always highlighting how others helped. Putting this quilt together was their way of giving back to LLL.

As we showed off the finished quilt, the roomful of women chorused "It's so beautiful!" The green and burgundy log-cabin-style quilt has a large LLL logo embroidered in the center. Hearts and a crisscross pattern grace the quilting in the center. Sewn butterflies intertwine with the floral embroidery bordering the logo. It is the product of much work and love from a group of women who have been involved in La Leche League for nearly 25 years.

Many hands helped to put the quilt together. Friends, relatives, and LLL members were recruited to make the quilt a reality. Workers on the quilt spanned four generations! Erma's mother cut out and pieced the quilt while Ruth's sister-in-law and daughter did the embroidery. Erma picked out the fabric. Lucy Martin, a mother with three young girls, hosted the quilting. Lizzy Martin walked a mile through the fields with a toddler in a backpack and two other little boys to help.

Have you ever been to a quilting? This quilting had all the best qualities of an LLL meeting. The quilt is put in a frame to stretch and hold it together and kitchen chairs are pulled up all around. First, the areas closest to the edges are quilted, then the quilt is rolled so sewers can reach further into the middle. Grandmothers, mothers, and daughters sat around the edges of the quilt frame and sewed. There was even an eight-year-old sewing! Making tiny stitches with the small needles is a learned art.

"It was so great to see everyone again! Everyone wanted to know when I was having my next baby though I'm not pregnant," laughed Patty Angstadt, mother of four and a Leader who formerly led with the Greater Ephrata Group and now attends another Group closer to her home.

This quilting combined laughter and work. Babies were passed around and held, giving tired fingers a much needed break. Toddlers played in the next room while preschoolers read books and were kept occupied, mostly. My four-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, had a great time with two other little girls looking at books together. Pregnant mothers took over sewing for others when babies needed to be nursed. The older women taught and encouraged the preteens who had come to help. Everyone contributed with a covered dish and lunch was a feast. The bulk of the quilting was finished the first day, and on the second, Lucy and her mother finished the intricate stitching around the logo.

The Greater Ephrata Group has been active for over 25 years. It is a diverse group of mothers from many different backgrounds. Many of the mothers stay at home, farm, and drive horse-drawn buggies. Others combine a home business with their mothering. It is not unusual for there to be 16 to 20 toddlers and children at meetings, as the average family size tends to be on the larger side. It can be noisy at times!

This quilt will be on display at the Eastern Pennsylvania Area Conference October 21, 2006 at the Reading Sheraton in Pennsylvania, and will be auctioned off at a silent auction. You can view it at www.lllofeasternpa.org/auction.html and bid before the Conference. Bids will also be taken at the Conference. The money raised will be split between the Greater Ephrata Group, Eastern Pennsylvania Area, and La Leche League International.

In Northern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, LLL philosophy is thriving where mothers and babies are nourished with breastfeeding and love. This beautiful quilt is a concrete testimony to the positive support La Leche League has been. It's amazing what a dedicated group of women can achieve. The La Leche League logo can keep you warm at night!

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