Ceremony honors local vets with a quilt
Four Boothbay region veterans were honored Sept. 17 along with nine other Lincoln County veterans with “A Quilt of Appreciation.” Fifteen years ago, Lincoln County Quilters began presenting quilts to local veterans in recognition of their service. Last year, the organization disbanded, and now Pat Johnston of Nobleboro and other quilters continue the tradition.
Johnston’s husband, Wayne Johnston, is a Vietnam veteran. She wanted to continue the tradition because of the oath taken by military personnel: “I solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the president and officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the uniform code of military justice, so help me God.”
For Pat Johnston and a collection of other quilters, they could not bear to see the tradition end. “I love veterans. This is something I can do to give back,” she said.
Dave Patch, American Legion Post 36 Cmdr. Robin Ford, Ed Harmon and Arthur Richardson were Boothbay region veterans who each received a quilt. Patch served in the U.S. Navy from 1961 to 1986. Ford served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1993 to 1997. Harmon served in the U.S. Navy from 1966 to 1970. Richardson served in the U.S. Air Force from 1954 to 1962.
Harmon and Richardson are also involved with VETS, Inc.(Veterans Emergency Temporary Shelter) which they founded along with John Hargreaves in 2019. The non-profit organization provides temporary shelter to homeless veterans. VETS, Inc. also received a quilt in appreciation of their contribution to homeless veterans.
So far, VETS Inc. has built 21 mobile shelters. In January 2020, VETS, Inc. built their first prototype showing government officials how their temporary shelter concept could assist homeless veterans. In 2019, a state survey showed 13 Maine veterans were homeless on a daily basis, but now, Harmon reports there is a need for more shelters. “There are now 109 homeless veterans, and it’s getting worse,” he said. “At first, it was a temporary solution, but the housing shortage is now a problem for everyone. We have one vet who has lived in his shelter for 2.5 years because there is no housing available for anybody.”
Harmon has heard from out-of-state organizations about providing shelters. VETS, Inc. is now in the process of raising money to expand their Boothbay operation. VETS, Inc. has a goal of building more than 200 shelters. The nonprofit has 18 volunteers building shelters with more assistance on the way. Harmon is discussing using Maine State Prison labor along with Central Maine Technical College and Portland Art and Technical students.
During the ceremony, Pat Johnston listed the following quilters who provided quilts for the 13 recipients: Deb Morrison, Donna McDonald, Carol Robbins, Paula Wheeler, Julie Stegna and Jenna Carpenter.