Paving the Way for Retirement: Sherria Simpson Reflects on The Quilt of Valor
Released at 9:00 am on Saturday, April 22, 2023
Sherria Simpson has been immersed in the world of fabrics and threads since she was six years old. She loved watching her grandmother quilting and imagining herself doing so. When her mother left for her job, she would pull open an old sewing machine and sew until her bobbins were empty.
“I love piecing and I love quilting. I do both,” Simpson said. “Some people enjoy one or the other. They like to do tops and quilts, but I like to do both.”
Simpson plans to retire from running Quilts of Valor’s Georgia and Alabama chapters at the end of May. A native of Luthersville, Simpson has worked for the organization for the past seven years.
“I will be 62 in May, so I will retire,” Simpson said. “I know he’s leaving Sewingmachine.com — I wouldn’t say permanently — but would love to travel.”
Before finding Sewingmachine.com, Simpson worked in a garment factory for 11 years. After that, he worked for Yamaha and traveled to Japan and France on business. Now that she’s retired, she plans to visit parts of America she’s never seen before.
Simpson was gifted with his ability to thread any sewing machine. She spent hours teaching herself to machine sew. That skill came in handy when she joined her Quilts of Valor.
She first joined the organization in Newnan, Georgia, where she remained for five years. When her husband discovered a health emergency, he encouraged Simpson to get more involved in her sewing, he bought her first long arm quilting her machine and helped her soon joined her Sewingmachine.com.
During Simpson’s time at West Point, Quilts of Valor distributed over 900 quilts in about nine sewers.
“We have a lot of quilts. We can award 60 quilts right now,” Simpson said.
She loves doing it, but sewing a quilt isn’t quick or easy.
Some quilt tops can be made in a day or even a few days, depending on how elaborate they are. It takes 2-3 hours to quilt them. Making a personal quilt is a loving job for community veterans.
“I think we gave back to West Point and the area around Alabama and let them know that they are loved and cared for by some men, especially those from Vietnam,” Simpson said.
Securing the necessary funding for the nonprofit was also not easy. The Quilts of Valor accepts donations of quilt materials. The organization accepts donations of cotton cloth and money. In the past, Joann Fabric Distribution Center and Walmart have donated supplies to the organization.
“It’s a nonprofit, so the women here pay a lot of money to help veterans make quilts,” Simpson said. “
In Simpson’s eyes, it was worth it. Hours of meticulous and painstaking work are Simpson’s favorite part. Difficulties arose when Mel Trammell asked her to lead the Georgia-Alabama Quilt of Valor. Her love for her paperwork never came so naturally to her as her sewing.
Simpson said the organization would be in good shape after she left. Current member Debra Alexander will take over. Alexander has his quilting conference scheduled at Pakuda in September this year.
“She will be a better performer than I am,” said Simpson.
Simpson has developed lasting connections with the community that enrich her work. She has been inspired by the people she met through Quilts of Valor.
“It moves me, and I worry about the new generation. They don’t understand that these people fought for your freedom. Since then, I’ve learned how valuable it is,” Simpson said. “Because they left everything they had at home. Some volunteered, some were drafted, but they sacrificed a lot. And they saw a lot. I did.”