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Quilts of Valor honor Nye County veterans for their service

The Nye County Valor Quilters may only be just over two years old but the group has already had a far-reaching impact on the community with 370 total handmade quilts awarded to local veterans so far.

The most recent round of quilts were presented during a ceremony hosted earlier this month, with almost two dozen service men and women honored.

Nye County Valor Quilters group leader Elba Rocha provided attendees with a little bit of background, explaining how both the national and local organizations got started.

In 2003, national Quilts of Valor founder Catherine Roberts had a dream, the message of which she said was clear to her: quilts equal healing. Roberts then set out on her journey to provide quilts to veterans as a method of helping them to heal after their service and the idea has grown to a country-wide effort with a myriad of local chapters, including the one right here in Nye County.

The local chapter, Rocha detailed, had been started by veteran Denise Kearl in January 2016. The group started with only 25 members and today has grown to 44 members. Kearl handed over the reins to Rocha three months ago and she said she was extremely proud to be able to take over such a wonderful organization. Since the Nye County Valor Quilters was started, hundreds of quilts have been ceremonially presented to county residents so far.

To help celebrate the occasion this month, Nevada Department of Veterans Service Director Katherine Miller made a special trip to Pahrump to take part. She came with a special announcement as well.

“When I got this invitation today, I said, wow, we haven’t done anything with Quilts of Valor Foundation,” Miller told the large crowd gathered at the Valley Conference Center.

She then read a prepared letter announcing that her department was making a donation to boost the organization.

“In recognition of your dedication to serving our veterans, we are pleased to enclose a grant award in the amount of $1,000,” Miller stated, prompting gasps of pleasure from the audience, which loudly proclaimed its enthusiasm with applause. Miller then turned to the quilts displayed around the room. “I have to say looking at these quilts, each one is probably worth $1,000. This is probably just going to buy thread,” she said, provoking laughter. “I am glad that we can be a small part of this.”

Rocha made sure that the women who actually worked their fingers and machines to their fullest in order to create the beautiful works of art were recognized. “Hats off to you ladies,” Rocha beamed proudly.

As for the request process, Rocha said it may take up to six months to a year for an application to be completed and the related quilt awarded. “But all our quilts are unique,” Rocha explained of the time spent. Each quilt is a labor of love and given all the time it needs to become something amazing. “They are the creative product of each one of our members. This mean designing, changing blocks around, matching fabrics, and sometimes starting all over again because we don’t like what we did first. But when those quilts are done, well, you will see the results,” Rocha said.

There were plenty of “oohs” and “ahhs” as each of the new quilts were revealed for the first time and all recipients were obviously joyful for the colorful, comforting gifts. Army veterans included Jerry Bell, Bruce Cox, Tynia Dickson, Paul Farley, Michael Haywood, Gene Hobson, Jordan Ralph, Charles Marino, Michael Tuttle and Dennis Vehe. Navy veterans included Dennis Edwards, Christopher Lally and Angelo Stefanelli. Marine Corps veterans included Gary Bird, Thomas Buckley, Todd Dawson, Harold Hughes and Thomas Maher. Air Force veterans included Terry Choyce, Gil Muise, Albert J. Perez and William Rettig.

To the last person, every veteran expressed profuse thanks to the Valor Quilters for their recognition.

The Nye County Valor Quilters depend on donations and the volunteer time of its members in order to fulfill its mission. Rocha encouraged anyone willing to lend a hand to get in touch with the group so they can become a part of the meaningful, charitable efforts.

Readers can learn more about Nye County Valor Quilters by contact Rocha at 702-336-8918.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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