Celeste Purdie, an agent with Marchant Company Real Estate, will be one of 10 female veterans to receive a Quilt of Valor from the Upstate SC Quilt of Valor Foundation on Feb. 28, 2020. She’ll be awarded the quilt by another veteran, Tamika Rowe, who bought her first home with Purdie’s help.
The quilt is regarded as the highest award that can be given by a civilian foundation. Each one takes around 70 hours to make and is made uniquely for a war-affected service member or veteran.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation began in 2003 when the founder, Catherine Roberts, had a son deployed to Iraq, according to the foundation’s website. Roberts said that a dream of her son being comforted by a quilt was the inspiration for the work she started. The quilts are given to service members and veterans affected by war. In November 2003, the first quilt was given to a young Minnesota soldier who had lost his leg while deployed to Iraq.
To nominate someone for a quilt, applicants can fill out a form on the foundation’s website. The award ceremony and creating the quilt is the responsibility of the local chapter.
The quilt itself must also meet certain specifications including the theme, material and label.
Purdie served as a Defensive C3CM Specialist and a sergeant in the Air Force. During her service, Purdie received seven Air Force awards and the Combat Readiness Medal and traveled to more than 20 countries. Purdie worked on the elephant cage radar monitoring sites during the Cold War. In 1989, she witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall.
“We are so proud to have Celeste on our team and appreciate the work she does to assist our veterans,” Seabrook Marchant, owner of Marchant Real Estate, said in a statement.
Rowe, who volunteers with the Quilt of Valor Foundation, chose to award Purdue this year. She’ll present the quilt to Purdie at the Feb. 28 ceremony — the first ever all-female Veteran Quilt of Valor Ceremony in the Upstate.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation has awarded 246,625 QUILTS across the United States to service members and veterans
“Tamika works selflessly for veterans in our area in several volunteer roles and inspired me to get more involved in organizations that support women veterans,” said Purdie.
Purdie said she’s excited about the award and wants people to know that she’s a resource for other veterans. In fact, almost half of her clients in the past year have been veterans, she said: “I’m always looking to be of service.”
She also sees the value in recognizing female veterans. “Sometimes I do think women veterans do get forgotten just because there are so many men that serve,” Purdie said, explaining that women can face unique challenges in the service such as being the only woman in her unit on assignment. “Having an organization or people that can get together and recognize the contributions that [female veterans] made is important.”
Purdie’s own experiences and her previous career in human resources has made her want to continue being a resource for those who need her.
“My passion is helping people get connected to resources and tools that could help them have better employment opportunities, live better and really just enjoy life,” Purdie said.