Building Community at NEADS with Quilts of Valor and Blue Star Mothers

NEADS is proud of its partnership with three organizations who are integral to the NEADS community: the Blue Star Mothers of Leominster and Worcester, and Quilts of Valor. The Blue Star Mothers have been providing meals – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – for veteran clients during their training on campus since 2006. The Quilts of Valor have presented beautiful, hand-made quilts to each of our veteran clients since 2010.

About the Blue Star Mothers. In 2006, NEADS was invited into Walter Reed Medical Center to determine how Service Dogs could help veterans who were returning with life altering injuries from Afghanistan and Iraq. Our entrée to Walter Reed was assisted by the late George Doc Fregeau, who served in Vietnam and was, to say the least, extremely active in veteran affairs in the Leominster/Fitchburg area.

Little did we know at the time that when Doc, who received the very first NEADS Spirit Award, connected NEADS to the Leominster Chapter of the Blue Star Mothers it would be the beginning of a partnership that would continue for years to come. Together with the Worcester Chapter, the Blue Star Mothers have provided delicious home-made meals for veterans during their training at NEADS since 2006.

The Blue Star Mothers have fed each of the 129 veterans served by NEADS since 2006. This means 3 meals a day, plus snacks and beverages, for 10 days of training for each of our veterans. 3 meals a day x 10 days x 129 veterans = 3,810 meals. The Leominster and Worcester Chapters have made enough food to feed an entire Brigade!

About Quilts of Valor. Quilts of Valor began in 2003 when its founder, Catherine Roberts, had a dream about her son who was deployed in Iraq. In her dream, she saw a young man sitting on the side of his bed…in utter despair. As the dream progressed, Catherine then saw her son wrapped in a quilt and his despair had changed to hope and well-being. Catherine understood her dream to mean that Quilts = Healing, and the Quilts of Valor was launched. Since 2010, Quilts of Valor has created more than 125 quilts for NEADS veteran clients.

Building Community. Every time veteran clients are on campus for training, NEADS hosts a reception where the veterans can meet the Blue Star Mothers who have made their meals and receive a quilt from the Quilts of Valor. For all our clients, NEADS works to change lives with our extraordinary dogs, and part of that change is inviting our clients into a new community – NEADS Nation. For our veterans, that community also includes the Blue Star Mothers and the Quilts of Valor – the individuals that they meet and the many hands who create their meals and gorgeous quilts.