By Patty Garza, Community Relations & Family Coordinator, Ayres House and South Parole
Ayres Halfway House, in San Antonio, has been blessed to partner with “Stichin for the Journey,” a group of San Antonio area quilters with remarkable talents and big hearts.
Last year this generous group donated a quilt to every single youth at Ayres House.
What staff thought was a onetime donation for the beds at the house turned into an ongoing relationship. The amazing quilters kept quilting and donating. They wanted each youth to get a new quilt to keep for themselves to take with them as they transition home.
They wanted each youth to know that one person spent multiple hours making something specifically for them.
They wanted all the youth passing through Ayres House to know that someone cared.
Each of these quilts can take anywhere from 20-50 hours to complete and cost $300 to $500 to make. Each bears a “care message” designed just for Ayres House youth. It says, “Stitched for you piece by piece by someone who cares.”
When youth go home after their rehabilitation time in TJJD, life doesn’t miraculously fall into place. A youth continues to face many challenges and barriers. Stichin for the Journey (SFTJ) hopes that on those hard days, they’ll see their quilts and remember that people do care about them.
Seeing the Stichin group, led by Debbie DeCamp and Rebecca Rindhal, deliver five new quilts at the end of January for newly arriving youth touched everyone at Ayres House.
“It’s really great to see what Mrs. DeCamp and her colleagues are doing for the youths by donating these quilts. It really does put a smile on their faces. They seem to understand just how much work goes into them. They even asked her about the whole process when she came in,” said Katelyn Brambila, an intern who works at Ayres House.
“The most heartwarming thing I witnessed during Mrs. DeCamp’s last visit had to be one of the youth’s excitement to see her. He had been wanting to see if she would be able to add a patch to his quilt. The patch said something along the lines of ‘made with love by someone who cares’, Brambila said. “That might seem like a small ask, but it was clear that it meant a lot to him to have that patch on his quilt, and I know it made him happier.”
“I was amazed by her generosity and loving compassion for the youth,” said another Ayres intern, Teniola Okeyemi. “Her dedication to youths shows them that they are cared for.”
Okeyemi asked DeCamp about why she started quilting and how the quilts were made.
“As I and other staff members, as well as some of the youth, sat with her and watched her sew, her storytelling lit up the room with smiles and laughter,” Okeyemi said.
Ayres House staff are beyond grateful for these gifts and the continuing support of the quilters of Stichin for the Journey.