Florida is unique in so many ways.

Sure, we all know our little piece of Paradise here in Southwest Florida is kissed by sunshine and blessed by spectacular vistas.

If you want to see how that sunshine reveals itself in a unique way, drop into St. David’s church hall any Thursday morning for a working session of the Sunshine Quilt Guild.

There, you will find quilters of all ability levels happily creating their own quilts.

What you won’t find are the dark quilts you might see in other states.

“Florida quilts are like the state itself — bright, colorful and pleasing to the eye,” says Millie Sodowski-Meyer.

“The colors here are very different,” agrees Diane Whitney McGrath “Every quilt is so bright, beautiful and eye-catching. Florida quilts are definitely cheerful — not the dark, drab quilts you might be used to seeing in other places.”

An avid quilter for many years, Diane says one of the first things she did when she and her husband moved here was to seek out a quilter’s group.

The Rotonda West woman thoroughly enjoys being part of the Sunshine Quilt Guild and often recommends it to others.

Diane readily admits to being “a doer.” When she isn’t joining a social group she’s helping to create new ones at the Rotonda Community Center.

Yet, she says she craves the quiet relaxation she finds in quilting.

“I can sit there quilting for hours. I often get so wrapped up in it I forget to eat and some days I don’t even change out of my pajamas because I just want to sit and quilt,” she says.

Other members agreed that quilting is one of the most relaxing things they can do.

For many quilters, the only thing better than quilting alone is quilting with others.

“It’s the fellowship we find with other quilters that has helped this guild to grow,” says Nancy Smith. She has the distinction of being one of the original 12 members.

“It really started in 2006 at the Quilters Cottage fabric store. Betty McClanahan started it by getting six customers together. By the time it moved to Lemon Bay Park, there were 12 of us. We were just a bunch of ladies willing to share and teach each other,” she recalls.

Now, there are more than 100 members. They come from all walks of life and range from beginners to those who have been quilting for decades. What they have in common is a passion for quilting.

“I’ve seen women come here who never quilted before and never did any kind of hand work. We are all willing to give newcomers a warm welcome and help them learn. In a short period of time they surprise themselves by making their first quilt,” Diane says.

She encourages anyone interesting in quilting to drop by St. David’s Church Hall at 9:30 a.m. any Thursday.

If you go, prepare to be dazzled by the stunning array of quilts. Each is uniquely eye-catching.

“There is no such thing as an ugly quilt,” attests Diane.

Members of the Sunshine Guild are also diligent in making quilted items for local charities, including Head Start, St. David’s Jubilee Center and the Guardian ad Litem program.

For more information, go to the Sunshine Quilt Guild on Facebook or, call president Millie Myer at 309-652-8253.

Pattie Mihalik is a regular columnist for the Sun. Contact her at newsgirl@comcast.net.

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