By Janie Clark
On March 19, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) put out a message to their volunteers that they were testing some mask patterns and asked for people to sew. I sent my name in and then sent an email to every woman in Eastman who I knew (or suspected) could sew. The response was immediate and overwhelming. And the responses came from Grantham as well through the grapevine of quilters, knitters, and fabric artists. To date, we have 36 Susie Stitchers working on fabric masks in three sizes. We have made a total of 1,455 fabric masks for distribution to the community! (Update: as of April 23, the group had made 2,649 masks.)
We have made masks for:
We have received 57 cash donations to date to offset costs. Additionally, the Quilted Thread in Henniker donated and discounted fabric and elastic. BUT the biggest gifts of fabric—in addition to the hours and hours of work—are from “the Susies” themselves, who have cut deeply into their stash of fabrics so we would not have to purchase all the necessary material. And, on top of that, many of them have purchased elastic at their own expense.
Why “Susie Stitchers”? I thought that making fabric masks was so low tech that it was akin to rolling bandages in the Civil War. But in conversation with Jane Verdrager, we talked about Rosie the Riveter from WWII and decided we could be Susie the Sewer. However, since you can pronounce “s-e-w-e-r” in two ways, we decided we would be Susie the Stitchers or, easier yet, “The Susies.”
Why do I volunteer?
I know that different people are motivated to volunteer for distinct reasons. For me, as the daughter and granddaughter of women who volunteered obsessively, it has always been an expectation. It was part of belonging to a community; that people who had time or could make time, would help where and when needed. I really like being productive and providing a service to others through volunteering is one of the best ways I know of to stay busy and help my community.
If you are in need of a mask* or would like to be a Susie (men are also welcome!), contact email@example.com.
* Please indicate size: child under 8 years, adult medium, or adult large. Also, indicate if you have a hearing aid as the masks can be adapted.