Thursday, October 2, 2014

Quilts of Valor Foundation - We've Come A Loooong Way, Baby!

Sharon Ledbetter, our Assistant Executive Director,  does an amazing job of explaining just how far our Quilts of Valor Foundation has come, our QOVF Mission and 'Who' can be nominated to be awarded a Quilt of Valor for their sacrifice and service for our country.  Sharon finishes by reiterating our Core Values that Executive Director, Susan Gordon covered in our first QOVF message, and offers some sage advice as someone whose had her 'boots on the ground' with the Quilts of Valor Foundation for well over 10 years!

Please take the time to read this ENTIRE newsletter and implement its message into your Quilts of Valor agenda...Thank YOU!

Deb Lindley/Founder/Group Leader
East Central IL QOV
217.264.2051 (Direct)

“Covering our Service Members and Veterans touched by war with Quilts of Valor®…”


Quilts of Valor ® Foundation

The Quilts of Valor ® Foundation 
"Moving Forward" Series Message #2

Our Mission & Core Values
By Sharon Ledbetter, Assistant Executive Director

We've come a long way baby!  

Over these past nearly 11 years we have seen many changes in this organization. In the beginning, November 2003, we were Quilts for Soldiers. Our name changed to the Quilts of Valor Foundation 2005, when we were officially notified of our 501 (c) (3) acceptance and our website first came into existence.      

Beginning with the first QOV's, Catherine insisted we were about Quality and Excellence. It is the one message that has never varied. Our Mission Statement, however, has gone through several changes.

In 2007 it stated we had two mission statements:
"to cover ALL combat wounded service-members whether physical or psychological with wartime quilts called Quilts of Valor (QOV's)." The wounded service-members from the War on Terror or Long War are to be considered first and foremost.

"to teach our children how to sew."

Our statement has continued to change over the years with the addition and deletion of words and phrases. This past year our BOD imparted the Mission Statement as it is to be from this time forward.  

"The Mission of the Quilts of Valor® Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor."

The change removed the two words "combat" and "all". The Board concluded that "all" is implied in the statement as written. The word "combat" was not part of our original mission statement but evolved over time.  We have come to understand that we comfort those touched by war.  

When the question of "who" is eligible to receive a QOV arose, LTC John Kallerson replied to this dilemma. Let me paraphrase his answer. "If you choose to go by the letter of the law, neither Vietnam nor Korea were declared wars, they were "police actions or conflicts". Personally, I do not feel that any one person should have the pressure of deciding which conflict is worthy of a quilt and which ones are not. I would much rather award a quilt to someone who felt that it's comfort could help them heal than tell that person that they are not worthy."

Catherine's response was and still is: "It is neither our place nor business to judge the potential recipient. I believe it is our business to serve our nation and one way is by making healing and comforting QOV's."

I sometimes hear "We only want our quilts to go to Medevac units." or "If they haven't shed blood they aren't getting our quilts" or "We want proof to know they are deserving". Friends, this Foundation is not about what "we" want. It is about what "they" need. When a quilt is requested it is our honor and duty to fill it.

The Quilts of Valor Foundations sets forth standards of conduct for all of QOVF. These Standards are known as our Core Values. The Foundation expects all volunteers and representatives to adhere to our simple standards.  

Treating people with respect. We honor all faiths and beliefs. We respect each other and include all who wish to join our mission. We are each individual volunteers and we bring to this organization our passion and backgrounds - military or civilian. We must always have compassion and kindness for each other and those we serve both in words and deeds.

Promoting excellence. One non-negotiable Rule: QUALITY - both in fabric AND workmanship. A Quilt of Valor is a Lifetime Award. It is a Lifetime Award and so defined "given as due or merited, to assign or bestow. "We do not present them. Presentation is defined as gifting, donating or a gratuity. A Quilt of Valor is not a gift - Christmas, Birthday or any other occasion; if you want to see my hair stand on end - call a QOV a Charity quilt. Charity is defined as donations or generous actions to aid the poor, ill or helpless. A Quilt of Valor is NOT a Charity Quilt. .     

Valuing service over self. Over everything else we do - our recipients always come first. This is not about us - it is always about them. Let me share the story of my friend Dale - Vietnam Veteran with 5 tours of duty. Three yrs. ago Dale joined several veterans to accept their QOV's. As he walked forward he handed me a letter to read to those in attendance. He said, ".....of all the horrors I endured in Vietnam, returning home and suffering the degradation from our own citizens was the worst. Tonight's the night I have waited for all these years...... someone to welcome me home." Dale told me later - that one night and the QOV that he proudly displayed in his home, had done more to relieve his PTSD than all of the therapy he had received over the years. Another beautifully written letter sent to Sheila Gordon, Arkansas SC, and recently received from a Vietnam Veteran. "As I sat down in my recliner with my computer in my lap to try to compose a letter of sincere gratitude, I draped my Quilt of Valor over my shoulders and I began to cry. As the tears ran down my cheeks I prayed to God to please let this Quilt act as a sponge and absorb all the sorrow and grief I have encountered and remove my doubts and fears to make me free to regain my place in this world and re-learn to love all my fellow Americans. As I pulled the Quilt tighter around me I became aware of the plush softness of the fabric and as I examined the stitching and marveled at the loving care with which it was made, I really understand that it is a Quilt of love and gratitude that was made with the most powerful human feelings on earth and it was made for me."  

Being accountable. We are accountable for our words and actions, whether to our recipients, our supporters, our donors or our fellow volunteers. When we speak to a group, when we award a quilt, we need to remember we are the face of the Quilts of Valor Foundation. We must present ourselves in dress, words and actions as professional. Dressing appropriately shows respect for our recipients. We should have a prepared written speech when addressing a group, always confirming the accuracy of our message. We must speak with one voice but always from our hearts.

This is who we are and what we stand for as volunteers for the Quilts of Valor® Foundation.

R. Susan Gordon
Executive Director
Quilts of Valor ® Foundation

Thank you for putting service above self.
Your efforts make a difference.

October  2014

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