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PAUSED.....but not forgotten

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  During our extended pause in Wrap-A-Smile quilt production, we have not forgotten the thousands of children around the world who are waiting….hoping….for the gift of corrective facial surgery when medical missions start again.   The worldwide incidence of cleft lip and cleft palate occurrence is estimated to be 1 in every 700 births.  This number may seem hard to believe as we in the US will rarely see an untreated, or poorly treated, cleft.  But thousands of children around the world are not so lucky.  An untreated cleft leads to malnutrition, speech problems and social isolation.  How amazing that an initial hour and a half surgery, by a volunteer medical team, can truly transform a life.  A new smile by Alliance for Smiles in Myanmar Rotaplast International and Alliance for Smiles , the two organizations who receive most of our WAS quilts, have recently posted updates on their websites: https://rotaplast.org/2021/06/rotaplast-covid-update-june-2021/ https://www.youtube.co

Firsts!

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 Ready! Set! GO!   Why firsts?   I, Paige, am posting my first blog post ever.  And I had a delightful weekend in Maine on my first official trip as Wrap a Smile’s Northeast coordinator.  Not only did I get to meet three of the hundreds of quilters that contribute to WAS, I picked up 31 colorful quilts and felt a sense of joy as “normal” peaked her head out and smiled!  Promising my husband we’d seek out some yummy dinners along the way, we headed to Unity, Maine and met Ellen S., a member of the Liberated Yo-Yos, the Bar Harbor guild. She drove down with her husband to bring me 17 lovely quilts.  The guys talked lobstering and we chatted about sewing and reconstructing family heirloom quilts.   Ellen and I with quilts by the Liberated Yo-Yos Meandering our way East, we ended up in Boothbay Harbor and met with Colleen G. and I got a tour of her sewing room.  (And my husband was able to see that long arm quilting machines do fit in craft rooms!)  Kwitlz 4 Kids sewed 10 fabulous quilts

Jenna's Grandmother

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Three years ago, when Terry was lobbying me to pick up the reins of Wrap-A-Smile, she shared many stories of the wonderful people whom she had met through her quilting and Rotary worlds.  One story in particular stood out to me, the bond between a grandmother and granddaughter who sewed a quilt together for WAS. It became a summer tradition, with the quilts getting more detailed as the granddaughter got older.  I loved the story and having two little granddaughters of my own, I immediately put that on my own "someday" list. Then out of the blue, a few weeks ago, I was contacted by a young woman named Jenna whose grandmother had passed away.  Jenna explained that because her grandmother Eileen had loved to sew and had made many quilts for WAS, the family would like to suggest that memorial donations be made to WAS.  I was very touched, thinking how thoughtful and generous that a granddaughter would encourage this means to honor her grandmother. And then I started sleuthing.  

Twice thankful

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While the medical missions may still be on hold, our network of Wrap-A-Smile supporters certainly has not been idle. Today's thank you is directed to my friend Gail, a member of the Rotary Club of Winchester, MA, and one of my "forever friends".   Last year Gail invited me to speak about WAS at her Rotary club.  Soon after, generous Winchester Rotarians awarded us a grant to start the "Kit's Project": packages of pre-cut squares for simple pieced tops, to be distributed in locations that might attract new quilters.  An additional motivation was to provide an easy way for people who might be less mobile, to still participate in our project. Who knew how our world would be turned upside down soon after! Covid-cautions nixed most of our plans to speak at senior centers, retirement homes, etc, but Gail figured out ways to distribute a number of the kits in her local area.  Messages went out through her zoom fitness classes and via the local senior center.  Soon

Teamwork and collaboration

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Medical missions are still on hold but our quilters certainly aren't!  Quilter Marci in Idaho has teamed up with Wrap-A-Smile regional coordinator Charlotte in California to make sure that our project never runs out of quilts.  And it's a wonderful story of collaboration. Members of the Sunshine Online Quilt Guild send fabric scraps and extra quilt blocks to Marci's "Scrap Orphanage" in Idaho where Marci whips them into eclectic works of art.  The pieced tops then fly off to Charlotte in California who layers the quilts, then puts them on her long arm machine for final artistic quilting.  They have become quite the team!   Currently we are building quilt inventory for  Alliance for Smiles in San Francisco.  As soon as travel becomes safe for all concerned Charlotte will personally deliver the quilts to AFS headquarters where they will be packed with the medical supplies. There is no firm date yet for the medical missions to resume, but we are reassured that there

Serendipity leads to new Regional Coordinator!

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  The connections made while managing the Wrap-A-Smile project continue to amaze me. A few weeks ago I was asked to speak about WAS at a quilters' retreat in Kennebunk, Maine.  Since we are all limiting our social engagements during these COVID times, I hesitated.....but knew my host well and understood that I would be speaking at a distance, to a very small group, in a very large room.  So I trusted my instincts and  accepted  the invitation.  And I'm so glad I did!  At the end of my talk, up walked Paige Curtis - and, drumroll here! - WAS has a new Regional Coordinator! Please meet Paige, in her own words: Hello Wrap-A-Smile friends, I am Paige Curtis, a quilter, a mom, a teacher, and a fan of wild colors and reaching out to help others.  My family and I recently moved to southern New Hampshire and while at a quilt camp I was introduced to Ann and Wrap-A-Smile. I started making quilts back in the 90's. I didn't really know what I was doing but created some treasures,

Wrap-A-Smile takes a Pause

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I have postponed writing this post, and I do it now with a heavy heart.   Last spring Rotary-related medical teams which provide free corrective surgeries for children born with cleft lip and cleft palate anomalies, sadly suspended all of their international trips due to COVID-19 concerns. Unfortunately there is now a large backlog of children awaiting treatment, but plans are in place to resume missions just as soon as it is deemed safe to do so. In the meantime, innovative new programs of virtual trainings for local health providers have been created.  Helping to train clinicians in the host countries has always been a part of the medical missions and technology is now helping to facilitate that. The good news in this story is that thanks to the generosity of quilters from all over the country there is now a generous inventory of children’s quilts safely stored, awaiting the days when they can be put to work comforting patients.  Wrap-A-Smile extends its heartfelt thanks to ALL the