Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 13, 2006
Woman's quilts bring warmth to the poor
Age, disease fail to slow Goulet's desire to help others
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
At 83 years of age, Jeannette Goulet has never been busier.
After her husband died in April 2003, the dynamic mother of five prayed that God would give her something to occupy her time.
Now she's busy up to 12 hours a day, sewing quilts to be given to the poor through the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
"I have always kept myself very busy from the time I grew up on a farm near Legal," said Goulet, a resident of St. Andrew's Centre.
"I went on a holiday with my sister after my husband died and when I returned in July, I was bored. Then I got a phone call from my cousin, Sister Jannette Girard, who suggested I make some blankets for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
"Now, it is almost like an addiction. I just love to sew them."
Although she suffers from cancer and osteoarthritis, Goulet almost effortlessly blends fabric and stuffing material to create warm and colourful quilts.
"I had to replace my sewing machine about five months after I started. I burned out the motor on my other one."
Her latest count is at 457 quilts. It takes Goulet three to four hours to sew a quilt. St. Vincent de Paul Society receives the majority of her work although last December, she donated more than two dozen quilts to John Paul II Bible School in Radway.
Goulet converted her bedroom in her tiny apartment into a sewing centre.
"I did a lot of sewing but I had never made a quilt before. I used to make my own clothes and my children's clothes. At one time, we took in four welfare children and I made their clothes. Making quilts is just something new."
Eileen Orysiuk is past president of the St. John's-Holy Spirit conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
"We had a lot of surplus donations with material and, at the time, Jeannette was willing to sew. As the society expanded, I found that McPhee Workshop was willing to donate any fabric I was willing to pick up for Jeannette," Orysiuk said.
"Our conference decided to donate the stuffing material, but I know Jeannette spends her own money on occasion to buy some."
Orysiuk takes away a shopping cart filled with a dozen quilts to the society when Goulet calls.
Orysiuk said she initially brought over a single plastic bag full of material, hesitant not to overwhelm Goulet. Much to her surprise, Goulet was calling for more material in no time.
"I eventually became more aggressive bringing Jeannette material."
Goulet likes to spend time carpet bowling or organizing bingo games with other residents. She is known as the go-to person when someone needs a button sewn on, if a hem needs to be adjusted or a sleeve needs to be shortened. She charges nothing.
She faithfully attends her prayer group. Goulet also likes to spend time in eucharistic adoration in the chapel attached to St. Andrew's Church.
"I love it. It takes me away from the machine. I bring my Bible and I relax. I go Wednesdays and Saturdays from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. If nobody comes, I might stay until 4 a.m.," Goulet said.
"The good Lord is with me all the time. People have told me I'm crazy because I could sell the quilts for $30 each. But I get more out of it than I give. If I wasn't doing it as I am for other people, what would I do? Go for coffee and talk about my neighbours? No, it is a beautiful pastime."
Letter to the Editor - 03/06/06