The Next Chapter of Sewing Masks for Maine
In just 6 weeks, what started as a small idea to sew some masks transformed into this incredible army of stitchers and volunteers. With your vitally important work, we have delivered more than 14,500 masks to healthcare organizations across the state, to help protect those at greatest risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus. We've seen incredible amounts of time, love, resources, and hard work poured into this effort, and we have been blown away by your generosity.
As we look at where the coordination tracker stands now, we have requests for about 1,500 masks still outstanding. We have enough masks currently in the pipeline to complete those requests. Incoming orders are noticeably slowing in every county as Maine successfully flattens the curve.
We are happy to share that we have achieved our group's mission as it was originally conceived. More than that, together, we've created a community of resourceful volunteers who have found solace in being able to make a meaningful contribution in this incredibly strange and difficult time. All of the co-founders are so amazed and grateful to find ourselves engaged in this with you all.
We are now starting the bittersweet process of winding down Sewing Masks for Maine. It took time to get where we are, and it will take some time to conclude our efforts. But never fear- we are committed to making sure there are resources for everyone who needs them as we do so. We are working out ways for people who are still ready and willing to make masks to continue to help their communities. We don't expect mask sewing will stop any time soon, especially with the updated Stay Safer at Home Order, but the landscape will shift to decentralized, more local efforts.
We will be closing Sewing Masks for Maine in a few steps, with the end goal of concluding the group on Friday May 15th.
Wednesday May 6th: we will close our mask request form to new requests, and remove the link from our website. This gives organizations a few more days to reach out to us.
Wednesday May 13th: this will be the last day to drop off masks at drop locations, which will give us two days to collect and distribute the remaining masks.
Friday May 15th: we will remove forms and drop off information from the site, but will leave everything else up so it remains a resource for people wanting to sew to our standards. We will archive the Facebook group at that time as well.
How you can continue to help
Join Relief Crafters of America (RCOA)
If you joined us in the beginning of our effort, you have heard us talking about Relief Crafters of America (RCOA). They are a national volunteer crafting group that was born out of the need to support wildlife after the Australian bush fires at the beginning of the year. They have projects for multiple types of crafts every month- sewing, crocheting, knitting and others. We modeled our group and donation structure on theirs, and used one of the same patterns they approved for our masks (they have several fun patterns for the masks they accept for more sewing variety!) When we started out, our fallback plan was to encourage people to join them if our group ever became to big to manage. So we are excited to encourage all of you wonderful volunteers to join them, if you'd like to continue sewing or crafting to donate. Danielle Letourneau lives in Maine and is one of the admins for RCOA. She has been an invaluable resource to us as we built our Sewing Masks for Maine structure. We're looking at ways to introduce her to you all in the next two weeks, so stay tuned for that!
Local Donation Opportunities
It's really important to us that we try to find a way for people to donate masks to their own local communities if they want to. We are in conversations with Maine Emergency Management to see if they may be willing to accept mask donations at their locations. We will report back when we find out what they decide.
We also encourage you to make connections with other stitchers you've worked with to see if you can pivot to supporting your communities directly. Please share any ideas that come from your local conversations that might help others establish their own system.
As a thank you to everyone who has contributed to this effort, we have ordered some stickers with the "Rosie the Stitcher" image on them. We'll be distributing those to drop off locations late next week so you can grab yours when you drop off your final masks. Give some thought in the next two weeks to what your path forward looks like. We all know how to make a high-quality mask that stands up to multiple washings, and we all know how to work together to deliver them in quantity. We also know how wonderful it feels to make a contribution, and how grateful the recipients are. Determine your mission and make it happen- you have the power. You've already done it once! We're committed to supporting you as we wind down the larger effort at Sewing Masks for Maine. We are all still together in community and available to chat as we start the next chapter for all of us. With our deepest and sincerest thanks,
Kris, Kristen, Abby, Sarah, Nicole, Suz and Jane