FORT COVINGTON - Theres a corner room in the Fort Covington Adult Center just for quilting tools and supplies - boxes of donated fabric, gridded cutting tables, an ironing board plus iron and even a few sewing machines sit unassuming in the well-lit room, just waiting to be used.
And twice, or even three times a week, theres at least one pair of hands thats guaranteed to use them.
They have for almost 30 years.
Without June Tuper, 86, the adult center wouldnt have all these things. The walls of the building also wouldnt be covered in intricate handmade quilts. The windows wouldnt be sporting just a dash of Christmas cheer with homemade holiday curtains. Some seniors wouldnt have a reason to get up and out during the week.
Because without Ms. Tuper there wouldnt be free quilting classes held regularly at the adult center from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays and occasionally on Saturdays at the same time.
Shes a rare talent. You just dont find that kind of knowledge in a lot of people, said center Director Tammy Francis. Shes pretty impressive even though she doesnt think so. We think so.
For the past four years, Tuper has volunteered her time to teach any willing person, completely free of charge, how to make a quilt. Rain, snow or shine shes at the adult center overseeing projects, willing to lend a hand to beginners and experts alike.
The multiple-time recipient of the Franklin County Fair Edna Hill Award makes it look easy, flying from the cutting table to the sewing machine to the ironing board and back again without pause. One of her students even gave her a present for Christmas - quilted, of course - declaring her the Quilting Queen.
But what might take Ms. Tuper a month to finish will take the average student three or four, even with her carefully drawn out instructions and reminders on a bit of graphing paper.
She treats each student with care and everlasting patience, according to Ms. Francis.
Ms. Francis and Town Supervisor Patricia Manchester admitted theyd never quilted before Ms. Tuper started teaching, and now they both love it. While they participate when they can, she has about four other steady senior students in her weekday classes.
What it does is it gets them out. And we just have a good time, she said. They say If June can get out and shes 86, then I can.
Ms. Tuper was first drawn to the adult center in her late 50s, when the then-director asked if she could oversee the creation of a quilt depicting historical buildings in the area. Once it was done, she didnt want to leave. So despite being under 60, and hence not technically old enough to join the adult center, she didnt.
To me, if you think of a senior, you think that theyre old and that they dont do anything. But you dont have to be old, she joked. I just stayed right here. Just kept coming and coming.
Besides quilting classes, every year since Ms. Tuper first became involved the adult center has raffled off one of her quilts. Her quilts are coveted around the area, Ms. Manchester said. Everyone wants to get their hands on a Tuper quilt.
This year the raffle generated about $2,600 - multiply that by 30 years and Ms. Tupers given the center even more than her time.
If its a place you enjoy, then you dont mind giving, she said. And Ive given an awful lot of myself to this place.
To top it all off, this year shes even quilted a multitude of pot holders to include with Meals on Wheels deliveries to local seniors. A little something extra in this giving season.
She said, I just hope when I cant come anymore theyll keep it up.