Corinth Quilters Sew, Donate Beauty and Warmth to Those in Need

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Corinth Reformed Church Quilters Cutline No. 1From left: Ruth Biesberock, Debi Rose, Viola “Vi” Eaton, Dorothea “Dort” Koopman and Roxanne Edema display some of the Corinth Quilter’s handiwork. Every second and fourth Tuesday starting in the fall and continuing through spring, about 30 women gather at a building called the Summit located behind Corinth Reformed Church in Byron Center to create beauty and warmth for a host of people they will never meet.

They accomplish this important undertaking by making quilts of various sizes: baby quilts, twin size and double bed size and lap quilts from bolts of fabric that are donated toward their ministry known as the Corinth Quilters.

A motivated group

And they are an ambitious assembly. In 2016, they made around 160 quilts; in 2017 as well as this year, 200 quilts were created.

Then after they're made, twice a year, at Christmas time and in the spring, the quilts are donated to 10 ministries or nonprofits, including the Other Way Mission, Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, Mel Trotter Ministries, Degage Ministries, Faith Hospice and the Pregnancy Resource Center in Grand Rapids, as well as to elderly Corinth Reformed members when they relocate to a nursing home, as well as the Appalachia Reach Out in Inez, Kentucky.

"This is something the girls can do with their hands," said Dorothea "Dort" Koopman, who along with another woman, launched the Corinth Quilters in the early 1970s. "Blankets we would have to buy, but these (bolts of fabric) we can get free and they're new and the streets of Grand Rapids or any place are cold. Go down to Kentucky and they don't have much to keep them warm."

While the quilters on hiatus, Koopman makes use of the time in the summer gathering donated fabric at drapery shops who know her by name.

"I have a route that I take," said Koopman. "And we put notices at different times in the bulletin for different things. These are all drapery places in the Lower Michigan area. And when I'm in Arizona, different organizations give them to me, too."

A gathering of beautiful colors

Corinth Reformed Church Quilters Cutline No. 2Dorothea “Dort” Koopman stands in the room amid the bolts of fabric donated to the Corinth Quilters. "I think the quilts, the pieces, are wonderful and it adds to the beauty of the quilt," added Ruth Biesberock, who's been with the Corinth Quilters for about 20 years. "It's nice to see all the different colors. At the veterans' home, we try to make red, white and blue quilts with stars, patriotic quilts for them, and it's something for them to talk about."

When the women gather, it's something of an assembly line process to create the quilts. There are some who cut 7-inch blocks, which is the first step, then others lay the blocks out to decide on a pattern. Others sew the blocks into rows and then sew the rows together, which constitutes the quilts' top.

Then others will add the batting, or stuffing, and a back, known as sandwiching the quilt. From there it moves to another station where a woman sews it all together and then is handed off to tiers who tie it all together.

"Between all that, there are a couple of women who iron strips or iron big pieces, said Koopman. "It's an assembly line. Some days it feels like a sweatshop. We get warm."

Different talents, one purpose

"We all have different talents," added Debi Rose, who worked at the church for 20 years and has sown with the quilters for six years. "It's fun to sit with a big group with the same goal and you're doing something creative."

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The Corinth Quilters have been in ministry so long, their reputation precedes them, which is likely why some of the women who help out do not attend that church, nor are they necessarily from the Reformed faith.

"We've got women from different churches; they've heard about us and invite friends," said Rose. It's great fellowship and a way to serve. We have snacks and coffee."

"We've got one woman who doesn't go to church at all," added Koopman. "But she prays now and she calls this her church home."

Coffee anyone?

You can't beat the camaraderie the Corinth Quilters make possible, said Biesberock.

"I just love it, the connection with all the people," she said. "I've met so many friends here and it's a wonderful mission and I love it. And I make the coffee."

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http://www.corinthreformed.org/women

Author Information
Paul R. Kopenkoskey
About:
Paul R. Kopenkoskey is a full-time freelance writer and editor for an assortment of publications including Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, and Faith Grand Rapids magazine. He has completed his first novel with the working title, Karl Beguiled. He and his wife, Barb, live in Wyoming, Michigan. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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