July 6, 2010

 Video News Release

Meade County Extension Homemakers Joyce Durbin and Mary Pike carefully selected a font and lined up a starched white pillowcase on an embroidery machine to stitch the message, "Tomorrow is a new day."

It's messages like these that the Extension Homemakers and Jennifer Bridge, their family and consumer sciences extension agent, hope will provide inspiration and encouragement to others as they work through difficult times in their lives.

"You know when you lay down at night and put your head on your pillow and you have all these troubles on your mind, it's an inspirational message close to you, letting you know someone cares," said Bridge, Meade County agent with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. "Some people send cards for encouragement, but this is a lasting message that goes beyond a card."

While the pillowcase Durbin and Pike were making was going to a local victim of domestic violence, the Extension Homemakers are also making pillowcases for wounded soldiers at Fort Knox and the Malone House, a hotel for wounded soldiers and their families at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The pillowcase project began earlier this year when the leader of the local branch of the Christian Motorcycle Association approached Bridge. He wondered if the homemakers were interested in making pillowcases for wounded soldiers. They planned to deliver the pillowcases while they were in Washington, D.C. for Rolling Thunder, an annual motorcycle event that promotes awareness of prisoners of war and those missing in action.

The Extension Homemakers were responsive and made 28 pillowcases.

"We were proud to contribute and tell our servicemen and women how proud we were of them for what they've done for our country and for us," Pike said.

Durbin and her husband, Daryl, are also members of the motorcycle group and delivered the first bunch of pillowcases to the soldiers.

"It was very humbling for us, especially when you saw how young they were. I think the oldest one we encountered might have been 25," Durbin said. "They were so upbeat and happy. They didn't feel like they were handicapped."

This was the first trip to Rolling Thunder the Durbins have made, and it was especially moving for Daryl Durbin, who is a Vietnam veteran.

"I've been in war zone; I don't necessarily know how they feel, but I can relate to their feelings," he said. "This (the pillowcases) was just a small gift we can take them and let them know that there are people who do care about them."

The Extension Homemakers will continue to work on the pillowcases throughout the year for local groups and for soldiers at the Malone House. The Durbins will deliver the next batch of pillowcases to the Malone House next Memorial Day when they return for Rolling Thunder.

"The outgrowth of this initial project led to Homemakers asking, ‘What else can we do,'" Bridge said. "This is a really neat project, and we're expanding out to different community groups. We do have a need here, and everyone can benefit from a little inspiration."