Stitching a Brighter Future

Quilters create a different kind of art. It is one that is frugal, often relying on source material of leftover or repurposed fabric. It brings people together to focus time and effort on each delicate stitch. It creates warmth, both the physical kind that comes from a layered blanket and the emotional kind that accompanies a handmade heirloom. And for Margaret Guthrie, that art is a way to contribute to causes that touch her heart.

Margaret is a founding member of Dining for Women’s PA, Philadelphia-4 chapter, one of three chapters formed through the Weavers Way Cooperative Food Market. She has been a part of DFW for almost seven years, but she has a lifetime of service to others.

“When I lived in Madison, WI, I was involved in doing several quilts as fundraisers in addition to being a longtime quilter myself,” she said. “As my 80th birthday approached a year and a half ago, I was thinking of a way to celebrate that and that I was still alive.”

On her 79th birthday, Margaret suggested a quilt project in support of DFW.

“She invited 12 people, each one to do a square,” said Betsy Teutsch, co-leader of Margaret’s chapter. “They were all done by hand, and many of us had not sewn since we were girls.”

The image in the center of the quilt is based on a children’s book about Wangari Mathai, a Kenyan activist who championed women and the environment. Betsy said the quilt was “Margaret’s baby” and its creation was more than the finished product. The women involved in stitching the piece gathered for several quilting bee sessions, combining friendship with the tangible goal of supporting women and girls. “It was really nice to be together,” Betsy said.

Margaret was a journalist for 40 years, writing for newspapers and regional magazines. She wrote book reviews for The New York Times and wrote about food and travel for the Milwaukee Journal and other publications. She also wrote a series of cookbooks that showcased regional dishes.

In addition to her support of DFW, Margaret volunteers at a garden at a family homeless shelter, and she continues to advocate for causes and programs that make an impact on the lives of others. For her, age is just a number. It is certainly not a reason to slow her volunteer work.

“It keeps you from thinking about yourself and how old you are,” she said. “And it does something good for the community.”

Margaret’s commitment to DFW has resulted in new friends, new causes, and a connection to her sisters all over the globe.

“I joined DFW because it helps women and girls,” she said. “Second, I joined because I knew the money I contributed every month went directly to help the people I wanted to help. To me, that direct link was very important and very gratifying. In the realm of unintended consequences, I discovered that when you belong to DFW, you learn a great deal about the rest of world.”