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Good friends hatch an idea to raffle quilt
Senior Center quilt raffle
Joan Shelby, Janie Belcher and Lena Nizzi ("The Three Amigas") display their quilt that is being raffled on Sept. 1. (Submitted photo.)

Special to the Herald


SPRINGFIELD – The Effingham County Senior Citizens Center is set to raffle off an artistic masterpiece. It’s a colorful quilt that contains love and appreciation for the center in every stitch.

Seventy-six-year-old Joan Shelby and her 90-year-old friends Lena Nizzi and Janie Belcher started working on the quilt at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 22, 2022. The last stitch was sewn more than 15 months later on June 7.

The friends worked on the quilt at the center once a week.

“It was a total of 217 hours,” Shelby said proudly. “We wanted to throw a party when we got through.”

The quilt features numerous blocks with pre-printed pictures of chickens. The blocks are trimmed with blue gingham.

Previous quilts made at the center were sold at a set price as a fundraiser.

“It was our idea for a raffle because we thought it would garner more money for the center,” Shelby said. “This is worth a lot more than $400 or $500 to us.”

Shelby has constantly searched for quilting buddies since she became a center member in 2016. She was thrilled when Nizzi and Belcher, who were classmates at Effingham Academy decades ago, joined her.

“I’ve been quilting since my mama told me how,” Belcher said. “Our mothers used to gather in groups in somebody’s house and they’d be quilting.”

“I quilt when I want something for myself to put on the bed,” Nizzi added.

Dubbed “The Three Amigas” by Senior Citizens Center Director Theresa Johnson, the quilters have mixed feelings about parting with their joint work.

“In a way, it’s hard to turn it loose but, in a way, it isn’t,” Shelby said. “We kind of got tired of looking at chickens. I think we are going to take a break for a while.”

Shelby, Nizzi and Belcher are happy to contribute to what they believe is a worthy cause, however.

“The center needs some exposure,” Shelby said. “A lot of people don’t even know that this center exists.”

The three widows agree that the center has greatly enhanced their lives. It keeps them active and gives them a place to meet old friends and make new ones.

“That Theresa has done a fabulous job,” Shelby said. “She’s really done a lot since she became director (last year).”

“Theresa has a lot of (fun) ideas,” Nizzi added.

“Anything new is good – most of the time,” Belcher said.

Shelby answered emphatically when asked if she and her quilting mates are going to participate in the raffle.

“Oh, yes! Of course,” she said.

“It takes only one ticket to win,” Belcher added.

Raffle tickets cost $1 and are available at the center at 128 New Stillwell Road in Springfield. The raffle drawing is set for Sept. 1.