(WJHL) — Our next Remarkable Woman finalist is retired, but even with a busy traveling schedule, it hasn’t stopped her from making and giving away 500 quilts to veterans–which she pays for all by herself.
After a successful career as a seamstress, Pat Martin needed a new challenge. So she started making and selling quilts. But in 2012, she listened to her heart, and decided to make patriotic-themed quilts for veterans, and give them away for free.
“I was just learning as I went, you know, just a little at a time,” she said. “So like I said, they’re not perfect, but I’m not either, so I feel like I put my love into it and I do the best I can.”
At first, Martin wasn’t sure how veterans would feel being approached and offered a free quilt, especially in a parking lot.
“And they really appreciate somebody just saying hello to them, if nothing else,” she told News Channel 11. “You know, they’re just thankful for that. And so I say who I am, and I gave them my card and I say, I have something for you that’s out of my car if I’m not out there in the parking lot, you know, that I’d like for you to have.”
Her kindness is met with a lot of gratitude, and some emotion.
“I thought this is one-on-one, just me,” she said. “And they would tell me stories or whatever they wanted to tell me, and I just listened for how long they want to talk about it. I just really enjoyed it and I said, ‘this is what I want to do’. So I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Martin has found the best way to repay the veterans she encounters is to listen to them. And her quilts are a wonderful way to start the conversation.
“We need to be free. So, yeah, that’s to keep us free. And that’s what they do. So that’s why I’m so appreciative. I don’t know any of them in their background or anything, but they tell me whatever they want me to know, and I just listen to every word,” she said.
Martin does all of the quilt work herself. From planning the fabric to putting it together, Martin works in her basement, machine whirring for three to four hours each weekday. She has accepted donations from others, but never from the recipients of her quilts. Her payment from them is the thank you notes she receives. She keeps everyone’s notes in books next to her workstation.
“Well, mostly it’s because I care so much about our country and the veterans. They’re our protectors, our defenders,” she said. “And I just. Oh, just my way of giving back. It’s a little, just a little piece. It’s not much, but it’s satisfying to me, and they all seem to appreciate it, and that makes it worthwhile.”
Even after 500 quilts were made and given away, Martin said the veterans she meets energize her to keep going.
“I have no reason to quit, and except physically, I’ll just go as long as I can.”