On February 26, John Douthat and Barbara Chatelain from Allbrands met with Todd Ulmer, social services director of the Salvation Army of Greater Baton Rouge, and Renee Chatelain, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge to plan a therapy program for homeless men sheltered in the Salvation Army’s Baton Rouge location.
The Salvation Army of Baton Rouge helps to find work opportunities to those struggling to find work in the area. While Renee Chatelain was touring the bunkers where the Salvation Army hosts the homeless, she thought it would be great for the men living there to have their own quilts.
According to Chatelain, it’s important to recreate that good positive energy one associates with quilts. She was inspired by the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, a nonprofit in Alabama that works to preserve the quilt artistry of a group known as the Gee’s Bend quiltmakers, with the oldest examples of these quilts dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. These carefully preserved quilts vary greatly in style, ranging from housetop and bricklayer quilts to more abstract designs.
Chancelier “Xero” Skidmore, director of community engagement at the Arts Council of Baton Rouge, works regularly with incarcerated people. He hopes to talk with the members of this group, once it is created, and help them find images that are meaningful to the members to incorporate into their quilts.
According to Chatelain, everyone can remember their grandmother’s quilts. She hopes this will bring comfort and a welcome creative outlet. Todd Ulmer, program director for the Salvation Army of Baton Rouge, agrees that this will be a great source of therapy for the group and will also serve as a way for those living at the Salvation Army’s local shelter to exercise some of their creative skills.