Katie Schultz Stout. Her name makes me smile. Katie was one of the very first members of The Sewing Machine Project board of directors. Wise, funny, compassionate–Katie was a clear, kind voice on the board for 8 years. And Katie gave her heart and soul to the organization. That was how Katie was. Overflowing with passion for so many things, Katie immersed herself in life.

When Katie passed away at the end of 2016, she left a hole in so any lives that will never quite be filled. Her family and close friends are busy sorting through the remnants of her numerous passions, and with each item comes memories and smiles. One piece that was hard to miss in Katie’s home was her amazing collection of buttons. Sorted by color in giant jars lining a high shelf in the hall, the buttons were exclamation points in the sewing chapter of Katie’s life.

When we received a request from our partners in Cuba for buttons and zippers I couldn’t help but think of Katie’s collection. I called her friend, Linda. “Sure,” Linda replied, “we still have buttons! How much do you need?” “Oh, a couple of pounds or so,” I said. “We laugh at your ‘couple of pounds’!” replied Linda, “How about 25!?!” And, of course I agreed. I’d clearly forgotten just how many jars of buttons there were! The buttons arrived, sorted into gallon ziplock bags–a rainbow of colors, shapes and sizes, and I prepared them to ship to the sewing group in Cuba.

And Linda reminisced, saying that Katie always wanted to visit Cuba. And so, carefully packed with a warm note translated into Spanish, Katie’s buttons are making the trip.

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