Printed in The Mennonite October 2011
Eloise Yoder completes service with Sister-Link program
by Mennonite Women USA
On Aug. 1, Eloise Yoder completed her term of service with the Mennonite Women USA (MW USA) Sister-Link wall hanging program and turned over her files of history and stories to Rebecca Sommers, Goshen, Ind., who is assuming leadership of this program.
Eloise Yoder and Rebecca Sommers (right) examine wall hangings sent to Mennonite Women USA as part of the Sister-Link program.
Sommers, a delegate to the board of Mennonite Disaster Service, is familiar with the needs to which MDS responds following natural disasters.
“This program has grown to be more than we imagined in the beginning. It is a much bigger gift to homeowners than what we gave ourselves credit for,” she says.
MW USA’s Sister-Link program provides networking to build women-to-women relationships locally and globally. Sister-Link connects hands and hearts through praying, letter writing, resource sharing and face-to-face visits. The wall hanging Sister-Link with MDS has captured the hearts and creativity of women across the church as it invites fabric artists to create wall hangings for homeowners who lost their homes during disasters such as hurricanes or tornadoes.
Initiated informally in 2003, at least 170 quilted wall hangings have been donated to the program for individuals whose homes were rebuilt by volunteers with MDS. Since 2004, this Sister-Link has been formally connected with MDS and has been coordinated by volunteers for MW USA. Elaine Good, Lancaster, Pa., began this creative service as she completed her term as president of the board for MW USA.
Following her tenure, Eloise Yoder, Archbold, Ohio, coordinated the program for three years.
“I first heard about this Sister-Link opportunity from an article in the Ohio Conference Evangel,” Yoder says. “I felt good taking over this project because I spend half the year in Florida and cannot participate in the women’s group at my church. I could make wall hangings and therefore still contribute.”
Like her predecessors in this role, Sommers is staying connected with MW USA following her term of service as president of the board. Sommers and former coordinator Elaine Good visited MDS headquarters in Lancaster to learn first-hand about the needs and their response process, as well as to share information about MW USA and the women who create wall hangings for homeowners whose homes are rebuilt.
Yoder’s files include a list of all the quilters who have contributed a wall hanging, plus two albums of photos and stories about the quilters and the recipients of the quilts. Reading the list of the quilters is a walk through the women of the Mennonite church across the country and an introduction to women of other faith traditions who also were inspired to share their artistic skills. Quilters learn by word of mouth about this opportunity and call the coordinator to inform her when they are making wall hangings. The coordinators of this Sister-Link find it rewarding in many ways.
“Just last week,” Yoder says, “someone whom I have known for many years called to say she had a wall hanging to contribute. She is coming to Ohio and will personally deliver it to me.”
Sommers, who recently delivered her own creative wall hanging to new homeowners in Johnson Bayou, Cameron, La., reported that many of the recipients choose the color for their walls or other room décor based on the colors of the wall hanging.
“We thought perhaps this (Sister-Link) had run its course,” Sommers says, “but MDS personnel said they are not done with this. They want us to continue to make wall hangings for the homeowners whom they assist.”
Sommers and Yoder say there are many quilters who send their wall hangings, comforters and bed-size quilts directly to disaster areas. No one knows the exact count, but they are certain the numbers are higher than the 170 officially recorded.