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PowerPhilanthropy Friday: Quilts with a Cause

Nick George, The Columbus Foundation Nick George, The Columbus Foundation PowerPhilanthropy Friday: Quilts with a Cause
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“Deaf people can do anything but hear. If you raise the bar, offer the right training and expectations, people will rise to the challenge,” said Meredith Crane, executive director of Deaf Initiatives.

Keepsake Theme Quilts (KTQ), a division of Deaf Initiatives, a nonprofit organization, employs deaf and hard-of-hearing high school students and adults to create quilts from the T-shirts of customers. The unemployment rate for persons with a sensory loss is around 65 percent, thus making the need for a work environment like KTQ even more important for deaf people.

“They feel empowered by the ability to communicate because most deaf people in a hearing work world feel a tremendous amount of isolation. They’re under-employed, under-utilized, and here that doesn’t happen for them,” Meredith said.

Deaf Initiatives was founded in 1998, with KTQ launching in 1999.

More than 25 teenagers and 40 adults have worked at the Columbus nonprofit. They have made over 4,000 quilts.

“It’s not just a beautiful keepsake T-shirt quilt – it’s the joy of knowing the money supports hearing impaired young people!” wrote one of many enthusiastic customers.

The quilts can be made in 10 different sizes using between 9 and 49 T-shirt squares. KTQ offers many fabric color options, personalization choices, and the ability to include items such as ties, jerseys, socks, hats, and even boxer shorts!

“We make beautiful T-shirt themed quilts for our customers while at the same time strengthening the potential of deaf and hard-of-hearing adults. KTQ has improved the lives of those who work here because it’s given them a sense of purpose, a real wage, extra money, and a great deal of satisfaction,” Meredith said.

The life changing power of this work environment can be felt in the words of employees.

“I probably would still be a follower and may never have become a leader. I honestly don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have this job,” said Shonna, office manager.

Young adults in the Work Experience Model program have similar feelings about KTQ.

“This is preparing me for my future. I’ve learned about working on a team and have had a really good working experience,” said Keigan, a high school student in the Work Experience Model program.

Quilts that are ordered by November 10 will be finished in time for the holidays and are a great way to support this social enterprise.

“We need the support of the community so that we can continue to meet the demands of our customers, continue to grow, continue to offer a real work experience for those who are deaf, and continue to change lives for these people,” Meredith said.

Learn more and donate to Deaf Initiatives via their PowerPhilanthropy® portrait. You can also learn more about Keepsake Theme Quilts on their website.

Information about local nonprofits is available 24/7 through the Foundation’s online resource, PowerPhilanthropy, which is available to everyone who wants to be more informed about nonprofits before they give. PowerPhilanthropy makes it easy to donate to the causes you care about at columbusfoundation.org/p2/.

Follow us on Twitter at @colsfoundation and like The Columbus Foundation on Facebook.

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One Response to PowerPhilanthropy Friday: Quilts with a Cause

  1. Anne Evans
    Anne October 26, 2012 6:35 pm at 6:35 pm

    Hmm, I wonder if they can use baby tshirts and clothes. I have some that are just too hard to part with, but a blanket could be a fun way to keep them.

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