Dia Vale got involved in Chelsea/Dexter CROP Hunger Walk through her brother, who has participated in all 25 years that the local event has taken place.
But Vale took her involvement in this fundraising event to a new and creative level last year.
The Sylvan Township resident used a number of CROP walk commemorative T-shirts, some beautiful foot-print fabric she had on hand, and the clever-and-talented quilter created an amazingly beautiful full-size quilt.
The quilt recently went on display in the meeting room in the Faith in Action building in Chelsea.
Vale decided to undertake the project the summer before the 25th walk, (which takes place the first Sunday in October) and got to work, using space at North Lake Church in Dexter Township to lay out and begin piecing together the design. It depicts the 5-mile route that walkers take beginning and ending at St. Paul Church on Old US-12 in Chelsea.
Vale says the project was “truly a labor of love” and she spent a lot of time designing it – putting sections together, taking them apart and putting them together in a different way – until she was completely satisfied with the stunning design.
“I was gentle with myself and with the quilt until it felt OK,” she says, calling the finished design “a symbol of a great ecumenical effort.”
Nancy Paul, director of Faith in Action, calls the quilt “something quite amazing,” and it’s also something quite personal for those who took part in the 25th annual event.
All the walkers were able to sign the bright white walking route depicted on the quilt.
Vale was already a volunteer when Kathie Gourlay became the coordinator of the event in 2005.
“She has been invaluable to me, taking on multiple jobs year after year,” Gourlay says.
She helps by driving around and around the 5-mile walk route, being a sag wagon, for any walkers who might need assistance, Gourlay says.
In addition, Vale’s also the walk photographer – taking dozens of photos, which she puts on a CD and often gets to the walk coordinator before the end of walk day.
“She gets her friends to volunteer in other useful ways, too,” Gourlay says.
“When Dia suggested making a quilt from old CROP t-shirts,” Gourlay says, “I knew it would be a big job, and wondered if it would really be done in time.”
It was, Vale says, “Most of it was done, but it was unbound and untied.”
Those finishing touches came later on the about 8-1/2 foot by 6-foot quilt.
Vale says she decided to make the quilt “as a commemorative way to raise consciousness about the event.”
“I particularly like that she made a replica of the route, matching it turn for turn to the real route,” Gourlay says.
Using a long white strip of material for the route, she invited each walker to sign their name on it.
“It makes this quilt one-of-a-kind, and an excellent remembrance of our 25th anniversary,” Gourlay says.
About 100 walkers raised about $24,800 for the poor and hungry people in the Chelsea/Dexter area as well as around the world during this year’s milestone event.
And, 15 percent of the money raised from the annual walk stays in the community.
In its 25-year history, more than $430,000 has been raised through the local CROP Hunger Walk.
If you’d like to get involved in this year’s walk, the first organizational meeting will take place at Faith in Action, on Tuesday, April 16 at 7 p.m. It will provide an opportunity to view the newly displayed quilt.
Faith in Action is located at 603 S. Main St. and everyone is welcome to attend the meeting.
For more information, call 313-268-6537.