Garden of Hope MinistriesApr 29, 2019 11:00AM ● By Emily Miranda
Work of Heart
Story by Emily J. Miranda
Photos by Salina Marroquin
“It started when God woke me up at 5:30 A.M. with an overwhelming desire to have a sewing machine,” remembers Judith Stone, president of Garden of Hope Ministries. “It was odd, because I hated sewing, ironing . . . anything to do with needles and thread.”
With the desire in her heart, she purchased her first sewing machine and began to learn the skill. Her first quilt was completed in April 2012—a quilt she’d made for a dear friend of hers battling cancer.
“I knew at that moment this was the purpose for the sewing machine,” Stone says. Three months later Garden of Hope Ministries was born, its mission to create and deliver quilts to cancer patients and others facing serious illness or tragedy.
“At this time, there were only two of us, Sandy Gaither and myself. Now we have 15 ladies in our group. That first year we made 25 quilts, and as of 2018 we’ve made over 200 quilts,” she proudly shares, emphasizing how Garden of Hope quilts are specially designed with patients in mind. They see their quilts as a “work of heart,” bestowing comfort to those who need it most.
“We embroider scriptures of hope and comfort on each quilt and pray that it be the arms of God wrapped around them, giving them strength through their difficult season,” Stone explains.
The group has also reached out to the community, sewing tote bags for children in foster care and working alongside women’s shelters in Visalia and Hanford. The quilters were also asked by the Visalia District Attorney Office to create a quilt honoring victims of violent crimes.
Stretching beyond the local community, Garden of Hope has blessed countless others, sending quilts to Redding Carr Fire victims, to orphanages in Guatemala and Kenya, and personally delivering 20 quilts to a human trafficking rescue shelter in Kiev, Ukraine. Their most recent endeavor is creating drawstring bags for personal hygiene kits that Fresno’s Days for Girls plan to send to young women in Africa, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
“We also worked with a chapter of Junior Catholic Daughters of America. The young ladies helped us sew bags that we gave to Kingdom Quilters in Alpine. The bags were filled with food and taken to volcano victims in Guatemala this last September,” explains Stone.
Behind the heartfelt outreach of Garden of Hope is a fellowship of women as beautiful as the quilts they create. Some piece together patterns, others embroider, others pray—each has a contributing role, a purpose to carry out.
“We love the harmony of working together to make a difference in people’s lives,” Stone says. •
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