Terry Cassanelli: Creating Quilts of Love

For the past 19 years, Terry Cassanelli has done the same thing every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon.

She and her friends gather amid needles, pins, fabrics, and other tools and materials to create cozy, colorful quilts to give to the needy and the infirmed. Since 2001, the group of nine women has donated 4,500 quilts to shelters, hospitals, and other institutions throughout Sussex and Kent Counties.

A resident of Rehoboth Beach, Cassanelli started The Glade Quilters after participating in a quilting bee. “We enjoyed it so much we started our own group,” she says. She and Maureen Burridge were the first members, then the other women joined. Their ages range from 60 to 98.

At first, the group decided to give their quilts to adults and children with AIDS. But what started as an impromptu effort to contribute to their community evolved over time to year-round quilt making and distribution while the quilters formed partnerships with nearby organizations.

Hospitals usually get 12-15 quilts and each homeless shelter about 20, Cassanelli says. The group’s logo, an iron-on heart, is on the back of each one.

The women make between 25 and 30 quilts a month. Cassanelli says the process has been streamlined because the women have developed an efficient procedure based on each member’s particular talent.

The quilts are made at The Glade Clubhouse, a building in the residential development where Cassanelli lives. Members’ husbands have built worktables for the women, and Cassanelli’s husband, Bob, also helps deliver quilts to the various institutions.

The quilters’ partners include Ronald McDonald House in Dover; Sussex County Women’s Shelter; the Retired Veterans’ Home; Little Sisters of the Poor; Harbor Healthcare; the Cancer Support Community; Cape Henlopen Senior Center; Rehoboth Community Center’s Baby Pantry.

The Glade Quilters also donate to victims of natural disasters as well as neighbors who are ill, have experienced a death in the family, or have recently given birth. They make quilts for nonprofits such as Stockings for Soldiers to auction them at fundraising events.

In 2019, The Glade Quilters received a Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award.

“What they’re doing shows kids there are people out there who care about them and are thinking of them,” said Philip Brown, founder of Kody’s Kids, a non-profit that promotes reading and supports children with cancer. “We hear of kids who take the quilts with them into surgery.”

Kody’s Kids also distributes the quilts to local schools and to children being treated at Nemours DuPont Pediatrics in Milford and A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington.

As the group enters its 20th year, Cassanelli says she has no intention of slowing down. “I love helping and giving to others, and I love the comradery, getting together with these kind ladies who care about each other. I hope to continue doing this for as long as we can.”

A $2 weekly membership fee helps pay for materials, but the group is happy to accept monetary and fabric donations. For more information, find The Glade Quilters on Facebook.

Adriana Camacho-Church
Adriana is a freelance journalist who has written for newspapers and magazines in California and Delaware. When not organizing programs for the Hispanic community for New Castle County Libraries she dances in the kitchen while cooking her favorite Latino dishes.

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