The Story of the Polio Quilts
by Pamela White, District 5020
Sometimes an idea or thought exceeds the
vision of an anticipated end result. Such is the case with the District 5020
How did this project start? Pam (wife
of Ross White, District Governor 2002-03) was seeking a project during her
husband's term of office that would be of universal interest and one which
coincided with her personal interests and talents. With years of sewing
experience and a more recent involvement in quilting, this became the seed of an
idea which germinated and has flowered. The opportunity to create something
representative of the clubs in the district and Rotary began to take shape.
Then, when the “Fulfilling Our Promise” campaign for the eradication of polio
was announced, the vision was well on its way.
The response of clubs to this project
was superb. All 81 clubs submitted a quilt block. In fact, the participation
was so successful that two quilts were made and each quilt represented the
various clubs in our international district.
The Polio Quilts has been
her biggest challenge to date. She went to the local Guild and asked for help
at the beginning of their Governor year, 2002-2003, and to her surprise no less
than 10 people volunteered to help her!! The interesting thing was that only
one had any connection with Rotary, the others just like to get involved in
community projects or lend a hand where needed. As a result of their various
talents, one quilt was machine quilted by Pam and three others, and the other
was hand quilted by two guild members who were total strangers at the time!!
The two queen-sized quilts became a
legacy for 2002-2003 and a financial contribution of $14,300 US was made to the
polio campaign. Appropriately, one quilt was won by a Canadian Rotarian in
Victoria, BC, who generously donated it to the Maritime Heritage Centre in
Campbell River, BC as a permanent display. The other was won by a non-Rotarian
in Aberdeen, WA and has been purchased by the Hawkes Prairie Rotary Club. Where
it’s final hanging place will be is yet to be decided.
Click the thumbnail for a larger view of photo.
Biography of Pamela White
Originally from Montreal,
Quebec, Pam, husband Ross and 3 children moved to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island,
BC in 1977. They all enjoyed Island life and felt it was an ideal community to
raise a family. During most of those years Pam taught Elementary School and
made many of her own clothes and those of her daughter. Sewing was relaxing and
After retiring in 1997,
many friends prevailed upon her to join the Quilters’ Guild in town. She was
reluctant to do so, because she feared that quilting was ‘addictive’, and sure
enough, it has proven to be just that!!! Nevertheless, she enjoys trying new
techniques and takes classes and workshops whenever possible. Wall hangings are
her favourite size because they are small and more likely to be completed
relatively quickly! Using fusible bias tape to make stained glass quilts is one
of her favourite techniques, and she is currently completing a hand-appliquéd
“Sunbonnet Sue” for one of her granddaughters, which she worked on while
traveling to Rotary Clubs and staying in hotels during her husband’s Governor