Country Pines Quilt Shop friends and employees have been sewing non-stop to help provide, “comfort, warmth, nurturing, healing and a sense that others care,” to the survivors of the Camp Fire, according to shop owner Laura Roberts.
She continues, “I cannot imagine the tragic loss for Paradise families. It defies description. Basically, their entire society is wiped out and I feel crushed for them.”
Rebuilding Paradise after the Campfire will be a long process.
Viewing online images of tent cities in areas such as parking lots and the fairgrounds offers only a glimpse of the task involved to provide basic shelter for displaced families and individuals.
Thousands of people who recently enjoyed evenings on comfy couches before cuddling up in their warm, familiar beds have had those daily comforts stripped away and are now struggling for ways to meet basic human needs.
Roberts was quick and decisive about using her shop, materials and skills to wrap her fellow quilters — 140 members of the Paradise Ridge Quilt Guild — in a homemade hug to help provide warmth and show support.
The project could not have been successful without many hands cutting, sewing and constructing. Numerous local quilters have contributed to the endeavor.
Locals such as Laura Byers, who in between caring for her family and horses plus working as a hair stylist, still managed to complete four cozy quilts to provide warmth and hope for Camp Fire survivors.
Byer’s was able to personally hand deliver one of her creations to long time friend Bonnie Reichenberg. Reichenberg is also a stylist and the two becam
e fast friends while working together at Beauty Corral over 30 years ago.
Reichenberg — a 17 year resident of Paradise — relocated to Chico after losing her home in the Camp Fire.
Byers offers, “ It has been an honor to be involved in this project. I hope to bring a measure of comfort to the Camp Fire survivors during this recovery process. Laura and Barbara are truly talented and have hearts of gold. They make the store a wonderful place to shop and sew.”
Country Pines Quilt Shop on Richmond Road was established in 2008 with a larger 1,600 square foot building constructed in 2016 to handle the traffic of its many devoted customers. But, for shop owner Laura Roberts this journey started long ago.
Roberts’ quilting heritage spans generations. Even now she and sister Nancy are working on multiple quilts that belonged to their grandmother.
However, putting their personal projects on hold, the pair are currently focused on constructing and facilitating quilts for survivors of the camp Fire.
According to multiple sources, the family run business is well known for supporting charitable causes. President of the Paradise Ridge Quilt Guild, Becky Ray, knew of Laura Roberts and Country Pines Quilt Shop long before the tragic fire decimated her hometown of Paradise.
Among the many hopeful stories Ray shared during our interview there was this, “ We have a quilting bee in Chester and always come up to Susanville to shop at Laura’s for fabric. Teresa and Bob Larsen drove up to buy a yard of fabric and when Teresa mentioned she was working on comfort quilts for the cancer center, Laura gifted them as many fabric bolts as they were able to fit into the trunk of their car for the purpose.”
Ray continued, “When the fire broke out, the Larsen’s filled their three cars with items they hoped would be spared. One of those cars was piled high with all the comfort quilts. The cars were parked in different spots on the property and when their daughter came to scoop up and rescue her parents, there was no way to know if anything would make it.”
Sadly, upon their return several days later, the Larsen’s discovered their recently remodeled home reduced to a pile of dust and ash, and two of the three cars melted into carcasses of metal.
The remaining car was the one full of quilts.
Imagine, after a lifetime of working, planning and saving, the only possessions Teresa and Bob Larsen were able to salvage was in the form of a vehicle loaded with quilts. Still, the couple finished what they started out to do and gave them all away.
Ray confirmed, “Now, every one of those quilts have been washed and folded and placed into the arms of fellow evacuees. Those quilts were protected and distributed by Teresa and Bob, two people who take their jobs to deliver comfort and hope very seriously.”
Ray’s home was one of the few spared but she shared that it can be difficult to rejoice when friends, neighbors, co-workers and family have lost so much.
Ray explains, “Survivor’s guilt is a strange thing. Every day I am grateful beyond words to have my home, favorite coffee cup, and a drawer full of warm socks … But I can’t help but feel embarrassed to say, “ Oh yes, my home was spared — its perfectly fine. So, I don’t. What we, — the ones with homes left — do, is look for someone else we can help.”
The Country Pines Quilt objective was to gift a quilt to every member of the Paradise Ridge Quilt Guild. So, of course the truckload of handmade heirloom creations Roberts delivered included a quilt to be presented to Teresa and Bob Larsen — bringing the giving full circle.
Roberts recalls, “When I was greeted by the Paradise Ridge Quilt Guild Members, who unloaded all of the quilts and pillowcases, there were many tears and hugs but also a sense of hope and resilience. These are amazing people helping others even though most of the members lost everything.”
This project has brought Laura Robert’s generosity to light, but that light has been shining on our town all along. Consider this excerpt from the Country Pines Quilt website:
“This is an unsettled time in our world. Creating a sense of heritage and connection through quilting provides both purpose and direction. It is amazing how making quilts, teaching others to make quilts, and most importantly sharing those quilts with family, friends and community nurtures and draws families and community together. We are here to help you create community and heritage one stitch at a time …”
Ray leaves us with this, “Some people call us crazy mountain folk, but we will rise from the ashes because we are Paradise Strong.”