Monday, 18 March 2013

The Aussie Hero Quilts Balancing Act

What am I talking about - what is the balancing act?  Well imagine a set of scales. 
On one side is the number of quilts available and on the other side is the number of requests for quilts.  It is my job to keep the scales balanced.  I would like to say that it is easy but in reality it isn't always easy and sometimes it can be quite challenging.

The main thing that affects the balance year round is publicity which I will get back to, but the other factors that have a big effect are the major personnel change over periods and, in recent times, the Christmas holidays.  

As luck would have it we had a major personnel changeover throughout Operation Slipper (that is the name for the operation in the Middle East which covers mostly the troops in Dubai and Afghanistan) just before Christmas - mostly from October to November. With new people arriving on ground, with a new ship deploying just after Christmas, and with all the ground work I had done, we started to receive lots of new requests.  At times we had up to a hundred unallocated quilt requests on the books, PLUS all the ones that were allocated.  Unallocated means that I had not handed the details over to a quilter at that time. 
Allocated means that a quilter had taken charge of that request and was beavering away on the quilt.  

Of course this influx of requests happened to coincide with December/January and the inevitable Christmas and Summer Holiday season.  Lots of quilters were on holidays, lots were tied up with family things or travel (lucky ducks!)
Through out Dec/Jan I did not have to drum up requests as they were coming through regularly and steadily and I was just adding them to the list.  Periodically I put out emails to the Aussie Hero Volunteer Email list so that anyone who was interested could pick up a request to sew for but I didn't really push it as it was holiday time and the last thing anyone needed was me hounding them to start sewing.  Those that wanted to sew would sew, the others enjoyed a break.  

Eventually we caught up, but it took a while and came suddenly at the end.  Throughout that period I had stopped chasing requests and had started chasing more quilters.

That is where publicity comes in.  Every time I speak on 2GB or have an article published somewhere we generate more interest and generally more quilters join our group.  Sometimes I actually resist the temptation to seek more publicity because I know the timing is not right.

So, where are we at right now?  Simple.  We have quite a few requests on the books at the moment - for people not yet deployed.  I have names and details for people who will be deploying in April, May, June, all the way up to November.  I won't release their names til much closer to time as deployments can change and they can also be security sensitive and you must know by now that when it comes to anything that smells even a little sensitive I will err on the side of caution.  In coming weeks I will also be meeting with the chaplain for the next ship to be deployed so I can explain how we work and what we can do for them.  Let's just say that ANZAC and TOOWOOMBA have given us a pretty good wrap.

What I don't have is lots of requests for quilts for right now!  After I have allocated the quilts that people have emailed me with tonight I will not have any requests outstanding  - no one waiting for a quilt right now.  That doesn't mean that things aren't happening and the demand has lessened, it just means the scales are out of balance and it takes a while to get the message out there again.  I have been sending emails and facebook messages but it takes a while to build up momentum again.  It would be so much easier if I could see into the future and quite frankly, in to all the quilters homes.  If I knew, and more to the point, could remember what everyone was working on AND even more difficult know when quilts were going to be ready it would be easier to keep the balance but that just isn't practical.

So, what do we need to do?  Keep sewing.  I don't want to go into details on the blog of who is going and when as I don't know what is public knowledge at this point and what isn't.  I think it is safe to say that whilst we might be a bit quiet at the moment with requests, that will not continue for too long.  What I would like you to do is to keep sewing as you are normally and just email me pictures of completed quilts. I am going to reinstate the Quilts in Waiting File.  For those that are new to Aussie Heroes, this means that you send me a picture of a quilt you have finished, or nearly finished (quilted and waiting for binding perhaps) and I file it away under your name until I get a suitable recipient.  As I get requests for them I will pass the details on to you. 

There is no risk of there being too many quilts in the Quilts in Waiting File.  It is kind of hard for me to go into the reasoning on the blog so I hope you will trust me.  I would love to find that when the next ship deploys we have enough quilts waiting, or nearing completion, to be able to fill the majority of requests in the first couple of weeks of their deployment.  It would be wonderful if we could do the same with whichever regiment will be taking over from 7RAR as well.  I don't know who that will be as yet, but I am trying to find out.  If anyone is in a position to tell me and feels it is appropriate to do so that would be helpful - email or facebook PM please.

I know this isn't a particularly exciting post but I felt it was important to explain how things work so you will not be disappointed if I do not always have a name for you to send your quilt to.  Any questions let me know.

Seeing as we do not have any pics to show you specifically tonight I thought we would revisit some which illustrate the need to add some colour to the lives of our very own heroes and heroines!



Till next time...........keep spreading the word and happy stitching!









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