There are a remarkable number of angels in this community. More, frankly, than I would ever have thought possible from a Web site. But even among that number, there are a few who stand out for what they give on a regular basis - and, no, I don't mean money, but time and labor and heart and soul and spirit and love.
But the thing about angels is that they mostly work in the background. We see them when the good things happen - the good things that they help make happen - but mostly, they toil away behind the scenes. And when they toil too long, without enough support from the rest of the community . . . well, their feathers can get a little worn. Worn enough, sometimes, that it inhibits their ability to fly. And when that happens, the people who most need what they can give go unaided.
We have two angels whose wings are worn. Threadbare, even. And the last thing I want to see is their wings clipped entirely - yes, it'll allow the feathers to grow back out, but the pain will be immense in the meantime, and not only for the angels themselves, but for the rest of us, too.
And they won't tell you this, but I will. So come with me over the jump.
Sara and Ann are perhaps best known for their gorgeous quilts, but they do so much more. Ann, by her own admission, doesn't write much - but she's a partner in every sense of the word, even if most of us don't see her working diligently away back there, out of sight. [But I see you, honey.] Sara is the sisters' public voice, so to speak. So when I refer to what Sara has done here, know that, most of the time, I'm referring to the fact that Sara's name is on it here at Daily Kos - but it's a sisterly effort.
In addition to the quilts, Sara has taken over administering the Kos Katalogue, which has done so much to generate exposure for Kossack artists and artisans over the last few years. She founded Gallery Kos, to highlight the work of Kossacks who are fine artists - painting, photography, etc. She has hosted online vigils to numerous to name, and ultimately founded the group Positive Intention and Lovingkindess, to give any Kossack who wanted to participate in such vigils a chance to do so. She's been active at Street Prophets for years. She's provided quilts for fundraisers to support the troops, to support Native American voting rights, to support veterans, to support people with disabilities - and so many more good works, too numerous to name.
Dozens of members of the Daily Kos community have benefited personally from Sara and Ann's visions and talent, by way of the Community Quilt Project. If there's anyone reading this who still doesn't know what that is, it's a method of community healing: Someone in pain of one form or another, whether illness, accident, grief, or whatever, is nominated for a "community quilt." Sara posts a diary notifying everyone, so that people can (for a very modest fee) leave messages of support and healing. Sara and Ann consistently tell people who cannot afford the message fee to leave one anyway, on the theory that the quilt recipient will need and deserve the good wishes. Sometimes people who can afford to give more cover messages for others. Sometimes not. Regardless, Sara and inscribe every one of those messages onto fabric, and then turn them into a quilt - actually, a beautiful work of fiber art - that is sent to the community member in need.
But there's a reason why it's called the Community Quilt Project. It's always been - in theory, at least - a partnership of sorts: This community provides the love and support in the form of messages for those who most need their healing, and the funding to make it possible, and then Sara and Ann work their magic with fiber and thread, woven with the kind of artistry and skill and, yes, love that I daresay most of us can't even imagine translating into something tangible in this way.
Well, the latter half of this equation still happens. Whenever there's a soul here in need, whenever someone asks, Sara and Ann go to work. Yes, Sara posts a diary to collect contributions toward the effort along with the needed messages, but that's about the extent of it. We all get the advantage of being part of something beautiful, something that brings real comfort and healing to those who need it - with none of the expense. Ten bucks to submit a message? That's a gift. To us.
But here's the problem: Over the last several months, payment of message fees has dropped off precipitously. Oh, as far as I can tell, every quilt has gotten fully funded . . . eventually. But it's taking far, far longer than it used to, and Sara often has to spend time and effort writing multiple diaries to collect messages that could be put to far better use making the actual quilts.
But that's only part of it.
I found out today how much it's costing them just for materials. They've been charging $10 per message. That just about covers costs. Forget the labor and energy and spirit and artistry they put into each and every one - one you calculate the hours and effort, they're not making anything even remotely close to minimum wage. Their income level is staggeringly low. These quilts are true labors of love - but labor without recompense doesn't feed the body (and eventually, the spirit starves, too).
Now, I know that these two women live as frugally as possible. But I also know that it's the beginning of a new month, and bills are due. Because business has been so slow, the bills are three times what their bank balance is. And that doesn't even allow for incidental expenses, or health expenses that will arise in the months to come. Because Sara and Ann (like a lot of us), have health risks and conditions that require periodic testing and treatment. They also have no health insurance. And what might otherwise be merely a financial inconvenience has the capacity to turn into a matter of life and death.
So here's the deal: I'd like to make sure that any quilts currently in process have all messages fully paid. I'd also like to add my voice to those Kossacks who are encouraging Sara and Ann to raise the per-message fee to $15 - which might cover the materials cost a little better. I'd like to invite Kossacks who may be looking for gifts (for themselves or others, including pooties) to consider one of their quilts or Pootie Pads. I'd like to invite people who have the means and inclination to do so to add a little to the pot just to show their appreciation for all that Sara and Ann have done and continue to do. I'd like to invite people with means and will to do so to consider setting up a monthly donation to the Community Quilt Project (which can be done via PayPal, or some banks), so that there's the potential for a small but steady stream of income for emergencies. And ideally, I'd like to build up a bit of a cushion for these two beautiful women, my "sisters," who give so much of themselves to this community, to help reduce their stress and provide a little peace of mind - to add the needed feathers to their wings so they can continue to fly.
If you can do any of these things, here's how:
To donate toward a specific quilt, or to buy an item, use this PayPal address: hairbraider33 [at] yahoo [dot] com.
To make a gift donation, use this PayPal address: rainwoman [at] mac [dot] com.
To order Pootie Pads:
We have two sizes -- Original (23" x 17") and Petite (13.5" x 9"). Here are links for ordering. Below the fold [of this diary], you'll see fabric choices. Specify a fabric in the PayPal note to merchant section if you have a preference -- if you don't have a preference, we'll be happy to choose for you.