Written by: Susan Reed
Williamstown, September 2001 – Helja Thomson thought she was going to pay her taxes that day. The name on the building clearly read “Township of Charlottenburgh”. Instead, Helja discovered that the tax office had moved out, and a band of zealous volunteers had set up shop.
The first person she met was artist Esther Bryan, who asked whether Helja would be interested in working on a little project. That “little project” was the mammoth undertaking that became the Quilt of Belonging. Helja loved the concept, and decided to pitch in.
“I let Esther know that I was not much of a sewer, but if she needed some office help, I would be happy to do it,” Helja says.
“Do I!” replied Esther.
“I told Esther she needed a wife,” Helja recalls, with a twinkle. “Esther the artist was also quickly becoming an executive, and every executive needs a good wife. I had the business experience, forever and a day, and I can nag better than anyone – just ask my husband! I am a reasonably organized person, so it has worked out well. We still laugh about it, I still help keep Esther organized and lend a hand when I’m needed. And from time to time, I still nag!”