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Stitched with love
Handmade quilts offer healing for those hurting from Oct. 1 shooting

Handmade quilts offer healing for those hurting from Oct. 1 shooting

Updated September 28, 2021 - 12:19 pm

Think about it, and a quilt is the perfect gift for someone who’s still navigating pain, fear and loss from the Route 91 Harvest festival shootings.

A quilt is warm, soft, inviting, something a grieving family member or still-struggling concertgoer can literally wrap themselves in. And if it’s a handmade quilt, it carries with it the good emotional vibes of its creator.

Over the past three years, the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center, 2915 W. Charleston Blvd., has shared the comfort of quilts with survivors, family members, first responders and attendees of the Oct. 1, 2017, country music festival on the Strip that ended in gunfire, the deaths of 60 people and injuries to hundreds more.

Tennille Pereira, director of the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center, shows a donated quilt created ...
Tennille Pereira, director of the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center, shows a donated quilt created by artist Dawn Preskar of Santa Maria, Calif. It's among several quilts that will be given away to survivors, relatives and first responders affected in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @csstevensphoto
Tennille Pereira, looks through donated quilts that will be given away to survivors, relatives and first responders affected in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @csstevensphoto
A donated quilt created by artist Dawn Preskar, of Santa Maria, Calif., is seen at the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @csstevensphoto

Through the center’s 1 October Anniversary Quilting Project, donated handmade quilts are distributed via a raffle to people affected by the shooting to serve as both a means of remembrance and a gift of emotional and physical comfort.

The program began in the months that followed the shootings, said Tennille Pereira, Vegas Strong Resiliency Center director.

“The first year, a local quilting guild reached out to Clark County wanting to donate some quilts,” she said. That effort — which was similar to a project that followed the 2016 Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando, Florida — was “so well-received, and such a moving thing for the survivors and bereaved families, that we decided to do it again.”

Last year we got around 900 requests and I think we had 100 quilts.

Tennille Pereira, Vegas Strong Resiliency Center director

This year’s raffle will mark the project’s fourth quilt distribution. “Last year we got around 900 requests and I think we had 100 quilts,” Pereira said.

Previous distributions saw quilts sent to Canada and states as far away as Alaska, Pereira said, reflecting the reality that many of the more than 20,000 concert ticket holders were tourists.

The quilts, which the volunteer quilters create year-round, include personalized touches. According to Pereira, this year’s collection includes a quilt that bears the names of the shooting victims and another with a Vegas Golden Knights theme.

Donated quilts will be given away to survivors, relatives and first responders affected by the ...
Donated quilts will be given away to survivors, relatives and first responders affected by the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @csstevensphoto
Tennille Pereira, director of the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center, right, and Lorea Arostegui, v ...
Tennille Pereira, director of the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center, right, and Lorea Arostegui, victim advocate with the center, look through donated quilts. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @csstevensphoto
A donated quilt is seen from a group of Girl Scouts that will be given away to survivors. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @csstevensphoto
Donated quilts that will be given away to survivors, relatives and first responders affected in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @csstevensphoto

The experience can be moving for both quilters and recipients. Pereira said one quilter’s husband died recently, “and she decided to make a quilt as part of her healing and working through her grief.”

Pereira knows of one young woman who was pregnant when she attended the concert.

“I think it was the second year she got a quilt and she uses it as a baby blanket,” Pereira said. “He loves the quilt and uses it all the time. He uses it to watch cartoons and takes it to the park as a blanket.”

He loves the quilt and uses it all the time. He uses it to watch cartoons and takes it to the park as a blanket.

Tennille Pereira, Vegas Strong Resiliency Center director

Carolyn Arostegui has made three quilts for the project over the past three years. She’s been making quilts since she was a teenager during the late ’60s and figures she makes three to five a year on average.

Making quilts for Route 91 families is “really a terrific thing to do,” she said. “You feel so good making the quilt and you know that whoever’s going to get your quilt will just love it. I just hope (they) can feel all the love that went into it.”

For both quilters and recipients, “it has so much meaning,” Pereira says, and the project is “healing for both sides.

For more information, email VegasStrongResiliencyCenter@ClarkCountyNV.gov.

Contact John Przybys at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com. Follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

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