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Barb Massman’s quilt honors Newtown shooting victims

by Jane Lightbourn • Staff writer

Barb Massman lives her faith. She is truly inspired as she reaches out to help.

Her latest effort, a beautiful handmade quilt, will be delivered this week to a Catholic Church in Newtown, Conn., in remembrance of the children and staff killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December.      

The shock and sadness of the shooting impacted many lives last December, including Massman’s. She said she cried and prayed.

“I asked God what I could do — I had to do something,” Massman said.  “So many people were hurting and I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to do something.”

Slowly the seeds of the quilt began to grow.

Several months later, Mitch Carmody, area grief support group facility and speaker, was at the Hastings radio Station, KDWA, which Massman and her husband Dan own.

“By then, I had the design in my mind,” said Massman.

Carmody mentioned to her that he would be one of the speakers at a grief symposium in the Newtown area this fall.

“Are you kidding me?” Massman asked him. She then asked if he would be willing to take the quilt with him.

“I told her I’d be honored,” said Carmody.

At another interview with Carmody, Massman was also sharing her story about taking a trip during the year. He asked if she would consider going along with him to attend the grief symposium, and the story continued.

Massman contacted Dave Kisby, who helped with embroidering the names of the children and staff on the quilt. She already had the blue-toned material she had in mind.

“I thought about the East Coast and thought of the ocean,” she said.

Massman found the white block at her home, pieces of material she had once considered for another quilt. The blue teal border she had thought of measured two yards – exactly what she’d need.

“Every step along the way, things were happening – God was driving this,” said Massman.

“This was truly being driven by the Holy Spirit,” said Carmody. “This is the handwork of God.”

Kisby embroidered 26 names.  For the remaining four blocks, he completed “Faith, Hope, Peace,” and “Love.” Little green bows are clipped on each corner of the name blocks.

Peggy Knoll sewed the quilt together and it was almost ready.

Massman was not done, however.

She designed several cards, had them printed and asked people to write notes of encouragement and hope on them. They, too, will be delivered this week.

The quilt will eventually be hung in a memorial planned for the community. For now, it will be at St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown where 12 funerals were held after the shooting.

Massman does not know if the victim’s families will see the quilt, but others will.

“It is about giving hope to people,” she said. “This is about me listening to God and reaching in hope from Him. It’s all about listening and sharing my time and talents.

“What do I say at a time like this?” she asked. “We will not forget.”