BOISE -- One of the most difficult times in anyone's life is saying goodbye to a loved one battling a terminal illness.

A local program is hoping to make those terrible moments a little easier.


Vern Williams was 57 years old when he passed away last December. He had suffered a stroke years before and had been battling several auto immune diseases.

"He could never come out of it," said his widow Christy Williams. "It was just too serious, so he was put on a ventilator."

His family and doctors made the tough decision to take him off life support just two days before Christmas on December 23.

"Words cannot express how I felt at that time," said Christy. "Anyone who has a family member who is going to be taken off life support or a ventilator and knows they're not going to be there much longer..."

Christy says as she prepared to say goodbye to her husband of nearly 37 years, there was one thing that made it better. A comfort quilt delivered to the hospital room for Vern's final moments.

"To have this be there over him kind of made him look like he was just going to sleep," said Vern's daughter Jennifer Williams.

They say the quilt made the sterile hospital feel more like home, and it was even Vern's style - a mix of fall, outdoor colors.

"It's heartwarming that there's a group thinking about people in the hospital in this situation," said Christy.

His family was grateful for the gift, but was even more impressed when they learned who made it.


The quilts are all made by inmates working in the laundry room of the state prison. A handful of prisoners work together to piece together materials in interesting designs.

"We design and put together things that are kind of cheery hopefully, and things that would appeal to the people," said inmate Walt Moore. "We just want them to have something that would be special in some way."

Moore says they're not great sewers, but they are passionate about the work.

"It certainly makes me feel good. It's just ah, such a small contribution, hard to say you're doing anything really for them, but it's a privilege to be able to do that much even," said Moore.

Moore has sewn nearly 100 comfort quilts during his time behind bars. Now he's passing on his knowledge to other inmates before he's released.

"It kind of reminds me that even though I can have a really bad day in here, someone else is having an even worse day, and I will actually pray a little bit that the quilt that we make will bring a little comfort into somebody's night," said inmate Peter Fridel.

Fridel says he knows he'll never meet the people who receive the quilts he makes, but says with every stitch, he's sewing a reminder that even those you would never except - care during your most difficult moments.

"We're a broken vessel in society's eyes and this is a way to fix, to show that God's not done with me yet," said Fridel.

Christy says the quilt also gave her strength in the days after Vern's death, and says it's something their family will always treasure.

"Thank you to the prisoners too for making this because I slept with it a few times over me for a month or so knowing it was one of the last things that covered him," said Christy. "I felt a little closeness to him."

"This is something we can never repay. It was a tremendous gift," said Jennifer.


If you would like to learn more about the program, you can stop by IDOC's central office in Boise.

You can also donate materials at that location, 1299 N. Orchard Street.