20 Year History of Project Linus in Portland/Vancouver
The Portland Chapter of Project Linus was started in July of 2001 with Marla Zupancic as the first Coordinator. She invited 5 people to her first planning meeting and I (Jodene) was lucky enough to be a part of that meeting. Since that first meeting of 5 people, the chapter has grown to literally hundreds/thousands over the years of volunteers willing to make quilts, afghans, fleece blankets for children in need of a hug during stressful times!
We started out meeting at A Common Thread in the back room and moved with them several times. Added a meeting in Vancouver at (oh my, brain fog) a local quilt shop, moved to Connecting Threads, to City Hall and then Roberta has so generously donated 2 spaces for us over the years with the current one on 164th. We would process blankets once a month at Tualatin Presbyterian Church and gather in Vancouver to sit and sew together.
When Marla retired in 2008, I became the Coordinator and changed the name to Portland/Vancouver Chapter.
We have given blankets to hospitals, DSHS, social service organizations, TIP, fire victims, SMART and many camps. We have given blankets to an entire school building — Crestline — when it burned to the ground on a weekend. The kids were scattered among the other schools. We were able to bring blankets to each student and broke the rules to give every teacher and staff member a blanket to help everyone ease the pain of losing everything in one night. Recently, a group of High School Honor Society members took 5 blankets to every elementary, middle and high school counselor/nurse in the Evergreen School District. That meant that the school could immediately give a blanket to comfort a child coping with a really bad situation.
Over the years we have been a busy chapter attending events at Clark Co Fair, Linn Co Fair, NW Quilt EXPO, VSAA, various church functions and other groups. We have made the newspaper a couple of times and EVEN made the local TV news. We have been featured in a national magazine (Quiltfolk) and their book. We have made strong connections with local businesses e.g., Stella Lighting, Quiltfolk, Bambini Fabrics, Connecting Threads. They have been so supportive with their donations and exposure to the community.
When COVID hit in March 2020, the chapter was closed BUT you continued to make blankets at home. Luckily, we all had stashes that we could dig into to make masks and blankets. We opened our doors — well actually we opened our sidewalk— so people could come and drop off their donations and pick up more fabric and other goodies.
We are easing back into meeting twice a month to Sit&Sew, Come&Go.
Through these 20 years, we have made, processed, and donated 68,153 blankets!!!! Each blanket given, creates a ripple-effect that goes beyond the recipient. It affects not only the child but also the parents, grandparents, siblings. Recipients are touched that a total stranger took the time, money, energy to make a blanket and then willingly gave that away to their child during one of their most difficult days. There is no greater meaning in life as when we help a child. This chapter has done that, 68,153 times, thanks to you and your fellow volunteers.
Over the years, there have been so many people who have had a special place in making this chapter successful. I wish that I could publicly name all of you, but it would be an extremely long list and I would run the risk of not remembering all of you. To name just a few......
Marla - Thanks for having the foresight, wisdom, and dedication to start this Chapter!
Roberta - Thanks to you and your family for generouslyt providing the space with lighting, heating and most recently AC!! Also, thanks for all your efforts these last few months keeping us going!
Laura - Big thanks to you for keeping the outside tables full, Frankenbatting and all the help you give to people during these last several months.
Thank you, Julie for your work in the “back room.”
Walter, you have supported me and this chapter every day for 20 years.
A BIG THANK YOU to each and everyone who have made one of the 68,153 blankets, who have helped to process those blankets and have helped to deliver them. WITHOUT YOU, this chapter would not exist!!
A BIG THANK YOU to all of you who have made fabric and money donations, helped with fundraisers, helped to organize, move us and, YES, to everyone who has helped to organize our garage to get the car in! It has happened a few times over the years.
I can't wait to see what this Chapter will do in the future!! I can see this jar that currently holds more than 68,000 pieces of paper and continue to grow to 75,000 and even one day it will hold 100,000 blankets.
Thank you for your continued support of this chapter, of me your Proud Coordinator, and each other as we provide comfort to children and their families.