Jeanne Bianchini delivered this speech at the “Betsy” Unveiling on May 17 2015. “Betsy” is a needlepoint American flag that was stitched by 109 Porch Club members. Jeanne led this effort and worked tirelessly to ensure that all who wanted to be involved could be and made this a truly representative project.
Madam President, Distinguished Guests, Women of the Porch Club, Family & Friends,
I can’t do this.
Please give me an easy one.
I don’t want to mess this up.
My mother wouldn’t believe this.
My mother taught me to stitch.
I wanted one with sparkle.
Can I have a blue one.
I used to stitch a long time ago.
If you need help, I’ll come back.
I can’t believe I did this, can I take a picture on my phone.
How do you remember everyone’s square? That’s the easy part. It happened while you shared your history, your talents, your interests, your time, your generosity, your support.
But what things about “Betsy” don’t you know. That Betsy was discovered by Carole Martucci at a Needlefest that we attended. That, months later, Rita Vittese saw a Sunday morning TV program and women were stitching an American flag. Might it be a good project for Stitchery? That the shop owner of the Nimble Needle, Karen Milano, would know exactly what I was talking about and, within days, supplied the patterns, canvas, and our many, many stitching threads. A mysterious envelope handed to me at one of our Monday mornings at Stitchery, that took care of all the sparkle we’d need on Betsy. And finally, a phone call from Nick Jr & Nick Sr at Hawthorne Galleries in Medford, the framers of Betsy, saying “Jeanne, I think you’re really going to like this”.
And you didn’t see Teresa Larson running her fingers over her square so she could see it. Or hear Dottie Fresco tell Anne Creter, “If you show me yours, I’ll show you mine”, Maureen Murray, who asked to stitch a #3 level square, a #2, a #1, and, of course, one needed to be blue. Liz Beech asking to stitch a square for Jean Richman who encouraged her in the Porch Club. My fun time with Elsie Waters stitching at her dining room table and leaving with a solar powered hula girl for my window sill. Eleanor Paladino taking her first square apart over and over again, and then coming back to help stitch several squares to get Betsy finished. Numerous thank you notes and a photo of Sadie, Mary Sweeney’s dog.
Some of you stitched, almost physically attached to your teacher, others wanted time alone to stitch and be alone with your thoughts. And so many of you spoke of the men in your families…………..fathers, brothers, uncles and ancestors………….all Heroes, now a part of Betsy. 109 of you came and stitched, still others participated through your donations and support, and, of course, those members remembered by so many, back again in the Porch Club in Betsy.
Today, as we celebrate together, I want to thank those who supported our efforts. First, The Monday Morning Stitchery Committee where Betsy began, Karen Milano of the Nimble Needle, Nick Grudza, Jr, of Hawthorne Galleries, Bob Hall of Affordable Image for installing the locking system, Larry Bradshaw who is donating a gallery light and it’s installation, and Tim Gleeson for today’s beautiful music. Our VFW and The Wounded Warriors Project. If you’d like to make a donation, the container is located on the table as you came in, and we thank you on their behalf. Also, we all thank those members who created today’s celebration. They’ve worked many days and many hours getting ready for today.
And, like every project in every department, Betsy came to be with the constant support and efforts of a dedicated team. First the Teachers, who gave so many Monday hours sitting beside many of you as you stitched. If you’d please come up front, Rita Vittese, Karen Healey, Pat Brunker, and, Our Resident Lefty & my Co-Chair of Stitchery & Arts Creative, MaryLou Schofield. The very first to volunteer to help, the voice on your phone, or email popping up to get you here to stitch…………….hours & hours tracking you down………and then making sure we knew who was coming each week, Judy Zapisek. And finally, the keeper of it all. Every donation accounted for, every member remembered, recorded and charted. And my personal, go to for everything, Johanna Rooney.
Thank you all.