Donna Sue Groves, the woman who began an international art movement when she had a painted quilt square placed on the side of a small, run-down tobacco barn in Adams County, has been awarded the prestigious 2015 Jenco Award for Model Service and Leadership.
Ms. Groves has been a devoted advocate for arts and artists. She worked with the Community Development Corporations VISTA project (Volunteers in Service to America), incorporating art into parenting classes. She then began service as a field agent for the Ohio Arts Council, she has tirelessly promoted appreciation for the regions culture and art community.
When she and her mother moved to Adams County, Ms. Groves saw the unique opportunity to beautify a barn on her property with a quilt square to celebrate her mother’s passion for quilting. She soon realized this one square could lead to many others, bringing visitors to the area to tour this distinctive Appalachian art from, enjoy the region, and invest in the local economy.
She convinced her community to work together to create a trail of barn quilts across the county. The first quilt square, The Ohio Star, was unveiled at the Lewis Mountain Old Thyme Herb Festival in 2001. The trail of twenty barns, symbolizing the twenty patches in a typical sampler, was completed in 2003
Working with a local grassroots committee she built this singular art project into a movement. Today, more than 7,000 barn quilt squares are found not only throughout Appalachian Ohio, but also in forty-five states and in three Canadian provinces. Additionally, the squares are showcased not only on rural barns, but also on the sides of inner city buildings.
“What amazes me the most about the way the Quilt Barn Trail has grown is not simply how the trail has introduced new people to our communities, but, more importantly, how it has brought people within the communities together,” said Mrs. Groves. “I am humbled by the Jenco Award and being in the company of these awardees. Each year, this award is proof that we can all make a difference in our communities and that when we work together there is no telling how far our efforts can reach.”
Ms. Groves’ fellow 2015 Jenco Award recipients include Bill Crawford of Columbiana County, Margaret Fredericks of Washington County, Jodie Hunt of Lawrence County, Nancy Sams of Washington County, and Iva Sisson of Meigs County.
“The Jenco Awardees are all shining examples of what each of us can do if we decide to make a difference in our communities,” said Sharon Hatfield, Jenco Foundation Fund Committee member. “Together, they show us how arts and culture, community development, human services, and education are vital to the people of Appalachian Ohio and our region’s quality of life.”
The Jenco Foundation and its annual award are named for Father Lawrence Martin Jenco, a longtime Roman Catholic priest who gave generously of himself to serve others throughout his life.
Since 2002, the Jenco Awards have been recognizing visionary leadership in the service of others throughout Appalachian Ohio. Nominated by fellow community members who witness their service and visionary leadership in action, Jenco Award honorees are selected through a competitive selection process and committee review. Jenco Award recipients receive an individual cash award to use in the manner most appropriate to their leadership. For more information about the Jenco Foundation Fund and Award and how you can recognize visionary leaders in your community, please visit www.AppalachianOhio.org or call 740.753.1111.