I recently began learning how to quilt through a program called the Community Aide Coalition (CAC). We make quilts for charitable organizations and causes. Although the recipients benefit, it is us who gain the most.

If someone would have told me years ago that I would learn to quilt in prison, I would not have believed them. Yet, here I am. Even more curious to me, I love it. I’m not the only one either, all of us who are apart of the CAC get so much happiness. It is funny to see us talk in a crowd of people, like we are sharing some important secret, when in fact we are simply gloating about our newest creation. 

Quilting is much more than a way for us to give back to the community, its a way for us to feel human. We sit at a sewing machine, or interact with fabric in some way, or pin our layers and it is extremely therapeutic. Our emotion, worries, fears, anxieties, stresses, past, guilt, shame, regret, isolation all just disappears for those hours. What emerges is these beautiful works of art as diverse and riddled with character as its creators. We get to pour love into something.

As inmates we rarely get afforded the opportunity to love openly. Folks are afraid to visit us, generally, which leaves us constantly trying to love from a distance. Often, our only source to show affection in any capacity is a creative project. We do not get the luxuries of romanticism or courtship. Yet we have so much love to give back, one could practically bottle it.

Quilting has afforded me, and others, a freedom that is not only rare- it is beautiful.

Our very best selves can come from our very worst decision.

With Love
Jeff Jeffebelle