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Sewing to save lives

Borland helps sew more than 700 masks to donate during pandemic

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson Juanita Borland works on sewing a mask. Broland, along with friend, Rita Kail, have sewn over 700 masks.

FARNHAMVILLE — Juanita Borland said she only began quilting a short time ago. With a small background in sewing, she decided to take up the art after her husband Frank passed away.

Eight years ago, she learned to quilt through a program held at Town Square Quilt Shop in Lake City.

“I bought myself a little packet that had the material in there and the pattern, came home and done it myself. That’s how I got started,” she said.

Although she may be a late comer to the quilting world, she has definitely made up for lost time.

Borland has donated her skill as a quilter by volunteering her time at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Farnhamville.

-Submitted photo
Juanita Borland helped to make quilts, shown here, that were sent to an orphanage in Jacmel, Haiti.

“Juanita helped make 40 quilts that my mission group took to an orphanage in Jacmel, Haiti,” said fellow parishioner, Patti Anderson. “The ladies of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Farnhamville also make quilts for other missions and Quilts of Valor for veterans and make head scarves for breast cancer patients.”

Most recently, to help with the battle against COVID-19, Borland has accepted the task of making masks.

As of early May, Borland said she, along with friend Rita Kail — thanks to donations of material and hair ties, have made over 700 masks.

The duo has been donating their masks to healthcare workers, churches and also for others’ personal use.

“The first week they put us into isolation I cleaned my kitchen. The second week, Rita called and asked if I would help. She gave me her pattern and examples and now I can make them in my sleep. It’s really been a 24/7 job,” she said. “I really enjoy sewing. It’s hard for me to read a pattern, but if somebody shows me what to do, I can do it.”

Whether it is a quilt or a mask, Borland is more than willing to donate her talents and her time.

“We are helping other people,” she said. “Just like Rita said about making these masks, if we are able to save somebody’s life, it has been well worth the time.”

In addition to quilting and mask making, Borland has also made her mark in Farnhamville by helping out with the town’s annual Old Settler’s Day celebration.

In the past, she said she and her husband ran the car show and she has also been instrumental in food preparation, clean up and serving the annual dinner and has also assisted in the planning process.

“I have been Rita’s right hand gal now for several years helping her clean the shelter house and get it ready, and the day of I usually help serve dinner,” she said of the whole day process. “We start early in the morning to late at night.”

Borland said the continuance of the Old Settler’s Day celebration is dependent on the younger generation.

“The young people need to help because some of us are reaching the age where we cannot do it any more,” she said. “It’s a lot of work and it’s pretty hard on a person. There is something for everyone to do.”

Borland said she was born and raised near Somers, where she attended country school, “Greenfield No. 6,” through the sixth grade.

It was at that time, Cedar Valley was organized and so she started there in seventh grade.

“That was my first experience being with a lot of kids starting in seventh grade,” she said.

School is where she met Frank Borland, who would later become her husband in 1962.

They moved closer to the Farnhamville area where they farmed alongside each other. “I have kind of been a Farnhamville girl ever since,” she said.

Later in the 1970s, Borland began working at Goodwin Insurance in Farnhamville, a position she held for 32 years.

“That really connected us a lot more with Farnhamville, with me working,” she said, “especially with my farmer friends. That’s what I called them.”

Borland said her husband enjoyed restoring old cars and street rods and had a love for International tractors, restoring them for himself and more tractors for other people. She said they also enjoyed country dancing.

“We have met a lot of people through those activities,” she said.

Borland’s ties to Farnhamville go beyond her volunteerism and her previous occupation as she said she cherishes all of the life-long friendships she has with several community members. She treasures those connections she and Frank shared together.

“Juanita has been a longtime friend,” said Kail. “She is someone you can count on, good help in any project, brunches, Old Settler’s Day to name a few. She is always pleasant and always interested in many things and people. She is loved by all.”

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