Colleen Anderson

Alumni story
Colleen Anderson 1970 1971 Eksdale
Photo of original quilters who formed the Cabin Creek Quilts cooperative (From left to right: Stella Monk, Lena Hawkins, Nema Belcher, Ada Thompson, and Vick Haggerty)
Original quilters who formed the Cabin Creek Quilts cooperative. From left to right: Stella Monk, Lena Hawkins, Nema Belcher, Ada Thompson, and Vick Haggerty

I joined VISTA in 1970 as a result of that great radio ad: "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem".

I landed in Cabin Creek, West Virginia, where I was privileged to help get Cabin Creek Quilts, a cooperative quilting business, off the ground. It was the perfect assignment for a budding artist and writer, and I loved my work: delivering fabric to quilters in several West Virginia counties, listening to wonderful storytellers, writing and illustrating catalogs and flyers, learning about marketing and designing.

Sometimes I traveled with the quilters to craft shows and sales. My favorite quilter - really, she became a second mother to me - was named Stella Monk. She had a bumper sticker on the back of her truck that read "Thank God I'm a hillbilly." Stella was with me in a motel room in Canton, Ohio the night Richard Nixon resigned. As he spoke, Stella suddenly walked out of the room. I went outside to find her, and said, "Stella, come back and listen! This is history in the making." "Honey," Stella said, "I never could bear to watch a man lie."

Cabin Creek Quilts persisted long after my 15-month stint; in fact, the business lasted for nearly 40 years, providing welcome income for poor quilters all that time. After my time in VISTA, instead of returning to my home state of Michigan, I chose to stay in West Virginia. I had fallen in love with the warmth of the people and the beauty of the landscape. I kept traveling around the state, and eventually I began writing for West Virginia's travel guide, which I continue to do. VISTA brought me to the home of my heart.

Decade: 1970s