First Church of Christ Congregational’s Mask-Making Ministry team members gathered in a spacious garden for a joyful, socially-distanced “Meet and Greet Farewell Garden Party” on September 12, 2020. The intent of the party was to celebrate and thank each guest for sharing their time, talent, and skill set, to recognize and acknowledge what our group had accomplished as a whole, and to provide closure.
On the surface, the title may seem like an oxymoron, but since our group formed in response to the pandemic and we strictly adhered to social-distancing recommendations many of us had never met in person.
We spent months bonding (via email) over our shared concerns, questions, frustrations, lessons learned, and even joys. We supported one another and drew strength and comfort from the group. The experience was an organic response to an unprecedented time that welcomed everyone and ended up accomplishing far beyond anything that any of us could have dreamed of or ever had the time, energy or resources to create as individuals. Some of us sewed, some cut fabric, others delivered supplies and/or masks as quickly as we could produce them. All in all, our group made and delivered 3,416 masks to organizations and individuals who were working in the most exposed and dangerous settings.
We thrived on our community’s abundance and generosity; the more PPE we made the more fabric and supplies poured in. We freely gave away every mask we made. To fully appreciate the astonishing results of Bedford’s largest mask-making project, though, requires us to consider and appreciate the power of community. Margaret Meade once said, “never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.
Her belief nurtured an idea; that idea spread throughout the community and became an invitation. And that invitation grew into a diverse group of 36 individuals who shared their skills, interests, and abilities. What may have started as a “church project” grew into so much more! And it was hopeful and encouraging; may we continue to live that legacy and form new, organic groups who will step out into the community to improve the lives of those around them.
We are tremendously grateful to all of the people who dug out fabric from closets, basements, or attics and/or who donated other supplies such as thread, elastic, rotary cutters, and t-shirts. The ability to make so many masks in such a short amount of time is entirely due to “thoughtful, committed citizens”.
Becky Mantz and Lisa Sackett coordinated the group. Other members included: Ruth Beuchesne, Dotty Blake, Dianne Bridgeman, Carla Brown, Marc Buccalo, Deb Caban, John Castricum, Sharon Cozzi, Mary Criscione, Jennifer Dalyrmple, Birgit DeWeerd, Nancy French, Nancy Guetersloh, Jean Hammond, Carol Jamison, Mary Koenig, Kathy Konkle, Nancy Latady, Kira Mantz, Gayle McCay, Nancy McKenny, Judy Morgan, Sheena Pardeep and family, Allyson Printz, Kathy Register, Laura Sackett, Stel Schmalz, Judy Smith-Pfeffer, Christine Speciale, Kate Trigg, Alison Weaver, Susan Wingfield, and Lu Woodford.