Comforts for Children

2015 Jean Retires


Jean Liittschwager holds the Comforts for Children logo quilt at the conclusion of her retirement party in October 2015.

In October 2015, shortly after her 88th birthday, Jean Liittschwager retired as Director of Comforts for Children, having served in the position for 24 years. Her three daughters came down from Portland for her retirement party, and many others popped in and out during the afternoon. The image above was taken at the last, after all but the core CFC people had left. Jean had earlier given a retirement speech, so to speak. The text she spoke from is below:

Thank you for coming to share this very special day in my life, and to meet my three daughters whose early childhood was part of my education and inspiration for the future founding of Comforts for Children. Faun is my oldest, (pause, point her out), then Jan (same pause), and Kit.

I had heard this thing about youngsters bonding to their “Blankie” to the extent of crying if it was on the clothes line where they couldn't reach it, so, soon after they were born, I simply provided two from a blanket I cut in half. They never knew the difference when one was in the wash.

The second part of my education came during my 24 years as an elementary teacher, primarily in third grade, and some in kindergarten. On occasion a child showing evidence of abuse would be enrolled in the class, and we were instructed to report these children to our administrators, who in turn reported them to the State of Oregon Child Services Division. If cause was found, these children were removed from their homes and assigned to foster care, and suddenly found themselves living with strangers, with nothing to call their own.

After my retirement from teaching, an early love of fabrics and sewing found me producing quilts of my own, and joining Pioneer Quilters. It impressed me how much fabric that would never be used was being collected by members, and the germ of an idea for making small quilts to give to children to call their very own was born. When I presented this idea to the quilters. They liked the idea. Jane Bannerman said she had thought about this as well, and she joined me. With Jane and the support of the Pioneer Quilters, Comforts for Children became a reality. We were advised by a similar group in California to give only through agencies who served these children as opposed to seeking out the children ourselves. Unused fabrics and batting were donated to get us started. The Kaufman Senior Center invited us to occupy a small room on the second floor. Strangers heard about us and would just hand us a bit of money, wanting to help, knowing we would have expenses. Now we were in business. We sought out agencies to serve: the internationally known Jasper Mountain Home being one of the first, plus Looking Glass, Woman Space, First Place Family Shelter, and many more.

Donna Larson, a talented quilter, designed our logo along with contributing many quilts. The word got around, and we were joined, among others, by Mary Parish and Suza Jang, who are still with us to this day. (Point them out.) As the word got around, individuals and groups started bringing us quilts. We started assembling kits, with predesigned tops and all the makings for a quilt from our donated supplies. We checked these out to sewers who returned the completed quilt. Today we have recorded a total of 30,000 quilts distributed during these past 24 years through agencies to at risk children. Today our cupboards are overflowing with donated fabrics and all the makings for these little quilts, plus bunk size ones for agencies that house the children over night.

In 2003, the Celeste Campbell Senior Center invited us to join them as one of their activities, and occupy this wonderfully large room, once a week, for four hours, for which we are eternally grateful. Let's have a hand for the Campbell Center.

To this day volunteers enjoy working here for three reasons: One, they believe in the worth of the project, two, the pleasure of the company of other volunteers, and three, the freedom to come or go as often they want. Another essential component is their trust in the integrity of the project, for without it, we are nothing.

One more note of appreciation most may not be aware of is our website, designed and maintained by my husband, Terry. On it one can find out all the information needed to know about Comforts for Children, so check it out. It is www.comfortsforchildren.org

As you enjoy this day, do take a few moments to look at the scrapbooks of our activities over the years. In addition, I hope you will take a close look at some of the many thank you notes and pictures from the children themselves that we receive. (Point to the display.) I would like to quote this particular one from a child named Kayla. (read the message).

Now, a new and exceptionally dedicated and talented team will be taking over where I leave off. May I present to you Mary Hawkes and Mary Parish. (Have them step up, and say something if they wish, or not) Here are the records for you to keep, and I'll be around from time to time to visit. (Hand them the records.) (Here one of them will invite all to share refreshments, etc.)

This page was last updated 2016-09-24.