5 November, 2005
MAHWAH, N.J. ñ The Injured soldiers returning from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan face a double challenge in their recovery. The doctors, nurses and physical therapists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center work to heal their bodies. But many soldiers and their families suffer emotionally as they cope with the loss of physical ability that comes with serious wounds. The Memory Crafters Club of Fairfax, Virginia are using their Janome sewing machines to let these returning veterans know that Americans appreciate the sacrifices they've made.
The forty nine members of the club, which meets every other month at Fairfax Sewing Center, worked with the Springfield American Legion Auxiliary to embroider blankets for the soldiers who have just been released from Walter Reed and are continuing their recovery in Fisher House, a transitional housing program run by the hospital where soldiers and their families adjust to life after a medical crisis.
The Memory Crafters specially embroidered fifty four blankets, which were presented to Vivian Wilson, Director of Fisher House. According to Wilson, the blankets provide a source of comfort for the patients and give them something to take with them when they leave.
The blankets were purchased by the Springfield American Legion Post 176. Post Commander Jim Kampanos came to a Memory Crafters Club meeting and told his personal story of what it was like to return from combat in Vietnam to a country that seemed ambivalent and even hostile to the soldiers' service. He now works to make sure that this doesn't happen for today's returning veterans.
Since 1990 Fisher Houses have been serving military families during times of medical crisis. These comfort homes are built by the Fisher House Foundation, Inc., and given as gifts to the military Services and the Veteran's Affairs. The Army is the proud recipient of 14 of the 33 existing Fisher Houses. The Fisher House Foundation was established by noted philanthropist and patriot Zachary Fisher and his wife, Elizabeth. The Fisher House enables families to stay together, cook meals, do laundry, and relax in a "home away from home" atmosphere. There are no other facilities on military installations which provide this caring, compassionate environment. Within walking distance of the hospital, it's a comfortable temporary home, filled with warm, caring people who help family members endure the stresses associated with a loved one's serious medical condition.
"We have a very special group of ladies," said Club founder and President Jean Smith. "They are so willing to learn new things and to teach others." The club is grateful for the support of Janome store owners Skip, Patty and Tony Whitmore. Every year the Memory Crafters commit to sewing and raising money for several charity organizations. This year those groups also include the Salvation Army Children's Christmas Stocking Program and the So Others Might Eat program to feed the poor and homeless.
The Memory Crafters sew and embroider on Janome Memory Craft machines. Jean reports that 18 members sew on the new Memory Craft 11000, the majority use the MC10001 or MC10000, and some use the classic MC9000.
More information on Fisher House is available at www.armyfisherhouses.org.
Janome America is the largest subsidiary of Janome Sewing Machine Company of Japan, which produces more than one million sewing machines annually as well as a line of related sewing products and embroidery software. Janome America is committed to providing high quality sewing machines for every consumer.