GAAQG Has Supported SafeHouse Center Since 1989

Community House quilt that hangs in SafeHouse Center entrance

The Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild has been a sponsor of SafeHouse Center of Washtenaw County for nearly three decades, through donating quilts and raising funds.  The donated quilts made by the guild members are given to each person who resides at the shelter.  As we celebrate our 30th anniversary, I [Kathy Johnson] wanted to find out more about this sponsorship and its impact.

Betsy Price, an original guild member, recalls “In the early years of the guild, a quilt was made to raise funds for an organization or cause suggested by the members. In 1989, a guild member told us that in Washtenaw County, there were more services for abused animals than for women who had been assaulted. Our meeting room instantly fell silent as we each processed this information. We voted to donate that year’s profits to SafeHouse, and decided to support SafeHouse in additional ways, and that’s when we began making quilts for the residents.”

1989 guild members with their SafeHouse quilts

The July 1989 newsletter announced that “the guild will be presenting as many quilts as possible to a SafeHouse representative at our November Quilt Day.”  In 1989, 87 quilts were presented in addition to numerous personal items donated throughout the year, such as toiletries, school supplies, diapers, and stuffed animals. The guild also purchased a sewing machine for the SafeHouse residents.  



In 1989, SafeHouse was located in a converted house in Ypsilanti .  There were three employees with resident capacity for six survivors of domestic violence.  SafeHouse Center’s main mission in the early years was to provide transitional housing for survivors of domestic violence.   Over the next few years, the guild helped with replacement windows, drapes, plumbing repairs and paint through its donations and in-kind contributions.  The SafeHouse fabric project was established when, Price recalled, “a long-time partner in the Robert Allen Group learned of our activity and sent boxes (and boxes and boxes!) of fabrics for our use. Fabrics that were not traditionally quilt fabrics inspired new designs, and fabrics that were not amenable to quilting were purchased by quilters to raise funds for a new washing machine for SafeHouse.”

SafeHouse Center quilt storage room

Although we were not able to compile an accurate count of all the quilts, donations and in-kind contributions in the past 30 years, we can share some of the following information:

  • 2,234 quilts donated since 2009 with 283 of these in 2016
  • Close to 400 adults and children receive a donated quilt annually to keep them warm and comforted while they are at SafeHouse Center
  • Since 1991, The Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild and its members have made financial donations close to $70,000, as well as donated their time talents, and quilts
  • Many of the donated quilts remain in the family of survivors and are handed down within the family as a reminder to speak up against domestic violence


Our contributions have been a significant enabler to the expansion and growth of SafeHouse, which has itself evolved from its Ypsilanti location to the location on Clark Road.  SafeHouse Center now provides support for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault for up to 50 residents.  With a staff of 32 and more than 150 volunteers, they provide free and confidential services for both sexual assault and domestic violence, including emergency response, 24-hour Help Line, counseling support groups, legal advocacy and referrals.

SafeHouse Center quilt

SafeHouse Center Now

  • The only provider of comprehensive domestic violence and sexual assault services in Washtenaw County
  • Steady growth in requests for services over the last four years
    • Increase in requests for services related to sexual assault crisis intervention, legal advocacy, counseling, crisis calls and other services
    • Steady to slightly elevated requests for domestic violence crisis intervention, legal advocacy, counseling, crisis calls and other services
  • Approximately 5,455 total requests for service in 2015
  • 7,975 bed nights provided in 2015 – 1,000 over the prior year (primarily for children)
  • 123 direct-service volunteers plus many facility and administrative volunteers

In closing, Betsy Price summarized many of the guild member thoughts through her statement that “It’s been rewarding for all of us to be able to help these women and families who are going through such a terrible time. The money we raise supports SafeHouse operations, while the quilts remind them there are people out here who care.”

For more information about SafeHouse, please see their website, or contact Deborah Kern at (734) 973-0242, ext. 273 or email



Author – Kathy Johnson with her first quilt for SafeHouse, ca. 2000 



[Editor note:  Don’t forget to join us on Saturday, January 21, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild.  We are inviting members of the community to join us free of charge.  Click here for details.]

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This post was written by Mary Beth Donovan

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