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Keeping connected through quilting

  • Gary Fields
  • Dec 21, 2018
Lifelong Lutheran still volunteering at 90 despite challenges

Rozella Hagen’s world has challenges. She lost her husband of 68 years recently and she’s battling dementia and tremors. But those challenges recede when she is helping others — and especially when she is working on quilts for Lutheran World Relief.

“She is a life-long Lutheran who still wants to serve even though she has limitations ... She’s a good role model still,” says her daughter Connie (Constance) Johnson.

A servant’s heart

Rozella has had a long career of serving others. For years, she taught at a Lutheran day school and volunteered in every conceivable church activity she could. Now the 90-year-old sparkles when the quilters from Immanuel Lutheran Church in Forest City, Iowa, bring her quilts to finish at Forest Plaza Assisted Living, where she has lived five years.

Marlene Faircloth and Kay Sorensen, members of the Do Day quilting group from Immanuel, say they send about 200 quilts a year to Lutheran World Relief. Others are distributed around the country and to anyone in need.

A purpose-driven life

Rozella and her husband Eldon lived in California for years, where they raised six children and where she taught at Lutheran Ascension and he worked for 27 years at California Lutheran University at Thousand Oaks.

They returned to Iowa after they retired and attended West Prairie Lutheran, a church Rozella’s grandparents helped build when they immigrated from Norway. In later years they returned to Immanuel.

The onset of dementia made it difficult for her to continue her torrid pace of volunteerism. The couple moved into assisted living nearly five years ago, Connie says. Her dad passed away in October.

The opportunity to serve

Last year Connie approached the Women of the ELCA (WELCA) at Immanuel and asked if they could bring unfished quilts to the center for her mother to work on.

“She really feels her days are much better if she can do something for someone else,” says Connie. “She feels like she’s done something worthwhile for her day. She’d much rather be tying the quilts.”

The church group brings her three to four quilts a month to finish.

“She gets great satisfaction doing that. I’m very grateful the WELCA ladies at Immanuel are so accommodating,” Connie says. “I don’t know if it’s helped increase their production of quilts, but I know they don’t spend nearly as much time tying them and my mom is thrilled to be able to help.”

According to Kay, the contribution Rozella, and other residents, make truly does help. She says the quilts they finish are “quilts we get done that we wouldn’t get done as a group. It’s a help.”

Blessed to be a blessing

Rozella has also been involved in other church fellowship activities and she helps fellow center residents get greeting cards to distribute during holidays and throughout the year. 

“If she can help even one person, then she’s had a good day,” Connie says.

 

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