Our rapidly changing new world is uncovering new challenges every day – as well as new opportunities to help and support one another in our neighborhoods and communities.
Over the last week, it has become clear that we’re experiencing a shortage of protective gear for medical professionals across the country. Most health care institutions and hospitals are rationing the use of N95 masks and in some cases, are prioritizing the use of an N95 mask only for the most ill patients and/or sterile procedures (i.e. surgeries). As hospitals run out of supplies, employees and residents at elder care facilities, group homes, shelters, and civic/nonprofit organizations that help vulnerable people are also left unprotected from the spread of COVID-19, as well as other illnesses. This reality hit home for me personally 4 days ago: one of my dearest friends is a nurse in a metro area Emergency Room and shared that she and her colleagues were using just one N95 mask per day and supplies are rapidly running out. Today, another nurse shared that she has been using the same mask for the last 3 days.
This reality is dire. Thankfully, we are not passive consumers – we are makers of our world! In the last week, the #MillionMaskMayday movement in which regular people, young and old, making homemade fabric masks* for health care and emergency workers at home has begun to sweep across the world.
My mom taught me how to sew. As long as I can remember, she has made things – when I was little, it was matching dresses for me and my sister; for the last 10 years, we’ve been making quilts together. I spend most of my time outside of Wildflower making soft beautiful things out of fabric for people I love to mark momentous moments in their lives – marriages, babies being born, new homes, birthdays. This moment we’re in now is also momentous, though for all of us at once. And when makers around the world heard the call to dedicate their sewing skills to support health care workers, I started to organize with other volunteer makers in my neighborhood in Northeast Minneapolis to share supplies and make as many homemade masks as we could. This opportunity to help out resonated also with Wildflower parents, children, and teachers across the country who have sewing machines at the ready – and so now, I’m inviting you all – Wildflower children, family members and friends – to join us in this volunteer effort.
If you have a sewing machine at home and know how to use it, you can make masks for emergency workers in need in your community. Fill out this form to request a kit. Or, use materials you already have at home – Instructions are available here. The pattern is perfect for beginners, and this would be a great project for children and parents to work on together. If sewing isn’t your thing but you’d like to help, we’re also accepting material donations and funding donations for this effort.
Thank you for your help and support. Stay safe and well!
* Although a homemade fabric mask cannot provide the same level of particle filtration as an N95 medical mask and are untested against COVID-19, the CDC has approved their use as a last resort. Research demonstrates that wearing a homemade fabric mask provides significantly more protection than wearing no mask at all.