Masterpiece Quilt Celebrates Pathfinder's 40th Anniversary And National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Masterpiece quilt celebrates Pathfinder's 40th Anniversary and National Down Syndrome Awareness Month Members of the Fly Creek Quilters; Frieda Snyder, Dayle Evans (seated, l to r), Gail Olin, Dora Cooke, and Toni Gray (standing, l to r); pose by their completed masterpiece, a 40th-anniversary quilt presented to Pathfinder Village, Edmeston, a residential community and services provider for people with Down syndrome and other disabilities.  Designed by Pathfinder’s Director of Enrichment Services Paula Schaeffer, the colorful masterpiece incorporates elements that reflect Pathfinder’s design, setting, traditions, and community-based services.  (Photo courtesy of Pathfinder Village; Bill Schaeffer.)

EDMESTON – Pathfinder Village received a unique 40th-anniversary gift this month from the Fly Creek Quilters, a custom-designed masterpiece that now graces the campus' Program Office. The new quilt caps-off an entire month of “staying connected” activities in honor of October as National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. 

Designed by Paula Schaeffer, the Village's Director of Enrichment Programs, the large quilt was created over the summer by Gail Olin, Dora Cooke, Dayle Evans, Toni Gray, and Sally Bush, all of the hamlet of Fly Creek. The finished piece incorporates design elements reminiscent of Pathfinder's community design, setting, traditions, and community-based services. 

“In this year of challenges with the pandemic, we're grateful to our local quilters who have used their artistry and sewing skills to celebrate this milestone with us,” said Pathfinder Village CEO Paul Landers. “Historically, quilts and quilt making have been an important art form, and quilts have helped generations stay connected as a traditional process, in the stories that surround individual pieces, and in the passing down of treasured heirlooms.” 

The quilt's central panel features the Village logo, “...that each life may find meaning,” which has guided the development of the Village over four decades. Pathfinder opened on July 29, 1980, following several years of fundraising and planning by parents and staff, and provided new educational, vocational, residential, enrichment, and other opportunities for people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities. 

Pathfinder took root as seven homes and a school in a cornfield and was modeled after historic New England-style villages, which were anchored around common greens. This plan was adopted for Pathfinder as it encourages individuals to engage in their community daily. On the anniversary quilt, a series of blocks depict individuals enjoying community activities; these blocks were created using a photo-transfer process and borrowed figures from a well-loved folk-art painting by the late self-taught artist, Edwin Johnson of Fly Creek. 

Mrs. Schaeffer's design also incorporates colorful pieced house blocks, representing the homes, offices, and public buildings that line Pathfinder's two greens. Other rows are stitched in the traditional “Flying Geese” block pattern, a reference to the rural nature of the campus. 

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“The Village is nestled in the midst of farmland,” explained Mrs. Schaeffer. “In the spring and fall, there are always large flyovers of Canada Geese. The flocks often stop in the freshly cut cornfields to rest on their journey and herald the changing seasons at Pathfinder.” 

Other design elements include an embroidered Village logo, and a depiction of Village residents displaying an “I Love You” banner, also sourced from Johnson's painting. This block celebrates the sense of belonging community members, friends and family realize through Village events and opportunities. 

Pathfinder Village is an internationally respected open-access community and services provider in upstate New York and was founded in 1980 to provide people living with Down syndrome and other disabilities an independent and fulfilling lifestyle. As it works to provide quality supports for individuals with intellectual disabilities, the Village also offers highly successful educational, day services, pre-vocational and outreach programs.  To learn more, visit, or visit our fan page on the popular social networking site, Facebook. 

-From the Pathfinder Village



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