Local Quilters Attend National Extravaganza
Concord Monitor Sept 23, 2021
“Master Quilter” Beverley MacGown, 86, and Jean Donahue, 81, both of Concord, attended the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza on Sept. 17.
The trip was arranged by a California non-profit, My Jump, which focuses on fulfilling bucket list wishes for seniors whose lives are challenged, medically, financially, or otherwise.
“Quilting is my passion,” said MacGown.
She first quilted at age 25, learning from her husband’s grandmother who lived next door. “Bev” estimates she has made 1,500 quilts over the last 66 years, keeping about 50 for herself.
Donahue lives down the street from MacGown and hosts a bi-monthly get-together of the Kranky Kwilters, a quiltmaking mini-group of seven, which broke off from the larger Concord guild called the Capital Quilters. MacGown is one of the “founding mothers” of the main guild.
She regularly writes a blog, MissMollyQuilts. com, named after her wire fox terrier. She photographs the flowers in her garden and her quilts, which give her inspiration for her designs. She uses a labor-intensive technique of stitching patterns into the fabric with just thread, called stippling and she also sews optical illusions.
Being a “Master Quilter” means Mac-Gown is “at the top of her game,” according to Donahue, who is also a talented quilter. MacGown has won regional awards for her most famous quilt “Baskets and Butterflies,” such as the blue ribbon at the prestigious Vermont Quilt Festival. Her quilts are works of art.
Now that they are both fully vaccinated, MacGown and Donahue were excited to take an Amtrak train first class from Boston to Philadelphia’s historic 30th Street Station to attend the Quilt Extravaganza. They saw quilts in the morning and visited the market in the afternoon. They were especially excited to see quilts from around the world, as most of the shows they have attended have featured US-made quilts.
Their adventure was funded entirely by California nonprofit My Jump, which
takes an innovative approach to aging in place, relying on inspiration to improve elderly lives.
The founder, Webb Weiman, a former TV producer for Project Runway and Top Chef, observed his father retreating into isolation after his mother’s death, even declaring he had “no reason to live.” Weiman decided his dad needed a boost, so he got him a date, and it went so well they got married. Most importantly, his dad led a happy, fulfilled life to the end. The experience sparked a new life direction for Weiman.
It’s an overlooked phenomenon, which has become more acute during the pandemic: When active, productive people retire and scale back their lives, it can be rough psychologically, especially if they are isolated. Studies show that some seniors have very little contact with the outside world, especially if they live apart from their families.
To counter this, Weiman gathers bucket list wishes, like the Jack Nicholson movie The Bucket List, and he’s made it his mission to check off as many of those wishes as he can, now numbering in the dozens. It has made a huge difference in the lives of many, because these events ripple through communities and inspire others to pursue their own dreams.
Quilt made by Beverly MacGown