Quilts of Valor presented to 11 local veterans

  • William Graziano, president of the Athol Veterans Council and commander of Edward H. Phillips Post 102, welcomed attendees at the annual Veterans Breakfast at Quabbin Valley Healthcare on Wednesday. ATHOL DAILY NEWS/KATHY CHAISSON

  • Local veterans were presented with Quilts of Valor following the Veterans Breakfast at Quabbin Valley Healthcare. Standing, from left: William Graziano, Athol Veterans Council president and American Legion commander of Edward H. Phillips Post 102; Marion Leslie, American Legion Auxiliary, Unit 102; Frances Graziano, Quilts of Valor volunteer; Darlene Coit of the Central MA Quilts of Valor; Roger Nowlin, quilt recipient, Army, Air Force, WWII; Elwin Deveneau, Army Air Corps, Air Force; Peter Newman, Chaplain, American Legion Post 102; Bobbi Newman, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 102; Toni Phillips, Air Force, (former Edward H. Phillips Post 102 commander, former president of Athol Veterans Council and former Athol veterans agent). Seated, from left: Arthur Martinelli, Army; Joseph Mallet, Air Force; Gary Freeman, Marines; Arthur Plante, Army; Walter Krause, Army; Lewis Wilson, Army; Alfred Gola, Army, Air Force; John Wictoski, Navy, Korea; and Lawrence Songer, Navy. Athol Daily News/Kathy Chaisson

  • Darlene Coit, of Central MA Quilts of Valor, presented a quilt to Army veteran Arthur Martinelli. —Athol Daily News/Kathy Chaisson

  • Marine veteran Gary Freeman is all smiles as he accepts a quilt from Darlene Coit of Central MA Quilts of Valor, who thanked all quilt recipients for their service. —Athol Daily News/Kathy Chaisson

Staff Writer
Published: 11/15/2019 9:50:24 PM
Modified: 11/15/2019 9:50:11 PM

ATHOL – Nearly a dozen local veterans were recognized during a special program Wednesday at the Quabbin Valley Healthcare led by Darlene Coit of Central MA Quilts of Valor.

As she began her presentation, Coit informed 11 veterans that the quilts they were about to receive represent a three-part message: “First, we honor you for your service. We honor you for leaving all you hold dear and to stand in harm’s way in a time of crisis, protecting us from the effects of war. Next, we know that freedom is not free. The cost of freedom is the dedication of lives of men and women like you, and this quilt is meant to say thank you for your sacrifice, and finally, this quilt is meant to offer comfort to you. Also, to remind you that although your family and friends cannot be with you at all times, you are forever in our thoughts and hearts.”

Addressing the newest recipients of the Quilts of Valor were Elwin Deveneau, Army Air Corps/Air Force; John Wictoski, Navy, Korea; Arthur Martinelli, Army; Lewis Wilson, Army; Gary Freeman, Marines; Lawrence Songer, Navy; Arthur Plante, Army; Walter Krause, Army; Joseph Mallet, Air Force; Alfred Gola, Army/Air Force, World War II; and Roger Nowlin, Army/Air WWII. Coit told them that they are testaments to the message.

“The outside of the quilts to me represent you,” Coit said. “The inside is so you can smush the stuff that you keep private and keep your hopes and dreams.”

Coit shook the hands of each quilt recipient and thanked them for their service. The ceremony followed a Veterans Breakfast held at the facility.

Quilts of Valor was started in 2003 when a woman sent a patriotic-theme quilt to her deployed son which piqued the interest of others stationed with him. Since then, over 230,000 quilts have been given to veterans nationally.

Coit said Central MA Quilts of Valor is “one hundred percent volunteer” and has presented over 800 quilts to men and women since 2010.

Coit explained to the veterans that all quilts are presented in a pillow case, and, “If you were hurt overseas after 2003, you might have received a Quilt of Valor on your medi-flight.”

Initially, the mission of Quilts of Valor was to provide quilts to service members and veterans touched by war. Coit said it has since been expanded to include “any veteran who signed the piece of paper to protect and defend us.”

Marion Leslie of the Athol American Legion Auxiliary, Unit 102, said a Veterans Club was formed in 1990 for those residing at Quabbin Valley Healthcare, and veterans who don’t live there and their families are invited to attend the meetings. A Veterans Breakfast is held twice each year at QVHC to commemorate Memorial Day and Veterans Day. William Graziano, President of the Athol Veterans Council and American Legion Commander of Edward H. Phillips Post 102, said QVHC has been “so supportive” of the veterans’ breakfasts and meetings.

For more information about Quilts of Valor, visit www.govf.org, or contact Darlene Coit at dlc183@aol.com.

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