Guest column by Theresa Schnipke, Superintendent, Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities
Over the past two years, AJ and Janet Theuer have donated over 200 handmade baby quilts to the families in the Help Me Grow Early Intervention program at the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
Chelsea’s Heart is their own personal program created to provide support to families of infants born prematurely or with a diagnosed condition.
Stitched with love
Both AJ and Janet have a special place in their hearts for these families.
From their own personal experiences, Chelsea’s Heart is dedicated in loving memory of their daughter Chelsea M ’Lynn Theuer and their sister, Patricia Jean Smith.
AJ and Janet want families to know they are not alone. The baby quilts offer comfort and warmth to both the child and the family. What a beautiful reminder to the family each time they use the quilt that others have walked this path.
Couples that make together
Making the quilts has become the Theuer’s life mission – their basement now strictly dedicated to quilt making.
The duo works in sync on the preparation, quilting and packaging of each blanket.
But the best part about each quilt is the origin of the material.
Both retired with a love of traveling has AJ and Janet taking trips throughout the United States and across the ocean. Quilting is a central piece of each trip.
Janet has been known to quilt during the long car rides and AJ frequents the local shops for material. Beautiful material has been shipped from as far away as Alaska and there are future plans to shop in the Caribbean.
Once the quilts are completed, AJ and Janet deliver them to the He Me Grow (HMG) office. Each quilt is individually wrapped with a letter to the family. The Help Me Grow Service Coordinators then share the quilts with the families on the first home visit.
Due to this process, AJ and Janet never have the privilege of witnessing the families receiving their homemade quilts. They ask all the time if the families liked the quilts.
How do you answer that?
The pure, raw emotion of these families is hard to put into words. Seeing them with the quilts is really special. And OF COURSE they love them!
Wanting to show AJ and Janet how much the HMG families love and appreciate the quilts, the HMG team decided to make them a quilt of their own.
A fleece blanket was made using pictures of the precious HMG babies with their Chelsea’s Heart quilt.
Families were more than willing to share pictures of their little ones with their quilt.
One mother was quoted “We need more people in the world to do great things like this!”
So, to you, AJ and Janet, may you always know:
“A family is pieced together
With hope and faith,
A family is quilted and bound
With love and grace.”