OKLAHOMA CITY – More than 30 Chickasaw elder veterans received custom-made quilts during a Nov. 10 drive-thru luncheon, thanks to the stitch work of a Chickasaw citizen and her quilting friends.
Summer Roberts, Chickasaw Nation Senior Center manager and quilter, surprised the veterans with individual gifts as they pulled up to receive lunches at the Chickasaw Nation Oklahoma City Senior Center.
Roberts, with the help of David McDowell and Zach Burnett, who prepared the meals, distributed the quilts and thanked the men and women for their service.
“Our veterans gave up all kinds of things for our country. With the world right now, with these veterans stuck in their homes, I wanted to make sure they know someone cares and we are thankful they gave their freedoms and made sacrifices,” Roberts said.
“It wasn’t for nothing. There are many people out here who are grateful. I want them to know they are loved and cared for,” she added.
Working at the senior center, Roberts had the opportunity to get to know the veterans personally. This helped in creating items made especially for each person, such as the Santa-themed quilt made for the elder who dressed up as Saint Nick last Christmas.
Red, white and blue color schemes were a common site as the veterans unfolded their quilts to view the designs. Each one was different. Some matched the theme of Veterans Day closely, with fireworks, eagles, stars and stripes. Others branched away to depict wildlife, forest scenes and U.S. Highway maps.
Elder Chickasaw veterans gave immediate feedback as they received their quilt, with comments like “That’ll feel warm on the legs this winter.”
Each senior center manager does something special for their group during the holidays. For Roberts, the quilts were a work of passion she undertook beginning in October, which did not leave much time for completion.
“With the pandemic I have a lot of elders that are alone. I am a believer. I felt like God laid it on my heart. The only way I was getting 30 quilts done was if he brought a miracle, and he did,” Roberts said.
Her miracle came by way of helping hands. She gave thanks and credit to the Del City Stichin’ Sisters, a quilting guild Roberts belongs to, as well as Chickasaw elder Connie Walk’s quilting group at Piedmont Church. In particular, Charlet Bachuss and Joy Englund aided in creating quilts while quarantined.
Roberts’ hope is the quilts help the veterans bring a piece of normalcy home with them, something to look at and know others care.
The Chickasaw Nation Oklahoma City Senior Center – which opened Aug. 25, 2018 alongside the community center – is located at 4001 NW 39th St.
About Chickasaw Nation Senior Centers
There are Chickasaw senior centers throughout the Chickasaw Nation, including sites in Ada, Ardmore, Colbert, Connerville, Duncan, Kullihoma, Madill, Oklahoma City, Pauls Valley, Purcell, Tishomingo and Sulphur.
Many of the in-person services offered out of senior centers are on hiatus due to COVID-19, though drive-thru lunches are still offered to qualified Chickasaw elders age 60 and older. For more information, call (580) 795-9790.
Applications to join can be found at any Chickasaw Nation Senior Center. To be eligible, applicants must:
- Provide a CDIB and/or citizenship card
- Be a Chickasaw citizen and 60 years of age or older or
- Be the spouse of a Chickasaw citizen 60 years of age or older or
- Be a Chickasaw handicapped person under 60 years of age living with an eligible elder or
- Be a Chickasaw handicapped person under 60 years of age living in elderly housing