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A Simple Quilt Helps Survivors Build a Home
6th Aug


A Simple Quilt Helps Survivors Build a Home

There is an emerging paradigm in philanthropy: Donors expressing their generosity through things they love doing. For Kathy Shain, that’s making quilts. Kathy has been supporting Coburn Place with her quilts and with financial donations for over 10 years.

Sewing has been a part of her life even longer – she got her first sewing machine at age 12.  She went to Indiana University and majored in accounting. She became a CPA and worked for the last twenty years of her career at Roche Diagnostics before retiring 10 years ago.

#quilting #donor #quilts
Kathy Shain, Indianapolis

It’s a good thing she likes numbers; there is a fair amount of math in quilt making. “I design a lot of the quilts I make.  I take a pattern and resize it or combine elements of several different patterns to create a unique design. My friends and I completed over 70 quilts in 2018 plus dozens of pillowcases.”

Crossing Paths

She was introduced to Coburn Place about 13 years ago, when she grabbed a tag off the Angel Tree at All Souls’ Unitarian Church. (An angel tree is a Christmas tree where in place of ornaments, tags hang with a list of needs for a particular family. Folks grab a tag, buy what’s on the list, and donate those purchases.) The year Kathy grabbed a tag Coburn Place was the beneficiary.

Even though “quilts” were not listed on the tag Kathy pulled, she thought families and children would enjoy them. So she donated a few. They were a big hit at Coburn Place. “Kids walk into their new apartment, and run to the quilts. These bright, colorful quilts bring these families joy,” she says.  “And they’re not only beautiful, they’re useful. I think art should be utilitarian.”

Kathy picks out fun fabrics for the kids’ quilts

Imagine this: A family coming to Coburn, straight out of a traumatic situation such as domestic abuse. They enter a fully furnished apartment for the first time, and a beautiful quilt is thoughtfully folded on a chair in the living room. There is one over each bed in the bedrooms and one on the couch. A symbol of hearth and home in many Norman Rockwell paintings, quilts become anchors for the Coburn residents of what home can and should be: A peaceful haven to live and love in.

Why Coburn?

Kathy personally delivers the quilts several times a year, and reflected on her first impression of Coburn: “I was glad they had the security gates. And that I had to have an appointment. And even once I was in the secured area, they still had to buzz me in the front door. They take the “safe” part seriously.”

“And I do appreciate the services they provide. Society has so many difficult issues. Coburn helps with one of the big ones. Most women* leave their abusive situations because of their children. That’s SO courageous. It’s a good mission Coburn has, helping these families do that.”  She adds, “Future generations are going to be productive and happy because kids were given a better chance.”

Kathy finishes each quilt by sewing in a hand cross-stitched tag.

Kathy is a member of the Quilters Guild of Indianapolis and she donates her quilts to other organizations as well: Quilts for Cure (pediatric cancer patients), Quilts for Kids, and Quilts of Valor.

Her guiding principal? The purpose of life is to be happy; and to be happy you need a purpose. She lives that out with every quilt delivery to Coburn Place.

(*Coburn Place also helps men who are interpersonal abuse victims.)


Want to learn how you can use YOUR talents or resources to help Coburn Place? Contact Julie Henson at

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