This year’s annual Elmira District Community Living quilt auction will be a little more memorable for all those involved as it will feature a quilt made in honour of longtime community member Sheila Herteis. Herteis, who was raised in St. Clements and lived with Downs Syndrome, died of a stroke in January at the age of 39. She was a lifelong contributor to EDCL, local businesses and the community. The memorial quilt patches were made by friends and family of Herteis as a commemoration of her passion for life and all the work she did. The 48 patches were sewn together during a quilting bee Tuesday at the home of Verna Bauman just outside of Elmira.
“It was quite a surprise,” said Sheila’s mother, Arlene, an avid quilter who sewed her patch for the quilt back on Mothers Day.
“It was a nice surprise to do this for Sheila, and I think it’s quite neat.”
Throughout her entire life, Herteis never let the fact she had Downs Syndrome slow her down. She was enrolled in the special needs program at Smithson Public School in Kitchener after Grade 1, where she learned sign language as well as how to swim.
She went on to graduate from Bluevale Collegiate Institute, and spent the rest of her life helping others in the community. Sheila was a volunteer for 22 years at St. Clements Roman Catholic School and in the local daycare and nursing home.
She also worked at EDCL in the kitchen and in the office, as well as took on one shift a week at the St. Clements grocery store and at Frey’s Flowers in Elmira.
Her active life is reflected in her quilt, which includes family photos, sentimental messages from friends and family, and a patch commemorating her participation in the Special Olympics as a bowler.
“Sheila touched a lot of people’s lives,” said Greg Bechard, executive director of EDCL. “She had many, many friends and so I think there’s that sense of honouring Sheila’s memory.”
The near-completed quilt is now being stored at the EDCL office in Elmira and will be auctioned at the group’s annual quilt auction on Oct. 28. Bechard said he appreciated how the group Sheila cared so much about could tie together her memory with their largest fundraising event of the year.
“When I saw [the quilt], it brought back a lot of memories. She was an important person here,” said Bechard.
“We all still miss her.”