Staff members who already knew how to sew helped first-time sewers learn.

Unusual times often help people to step up, band together, and accomplish tasks they wouldn’t have tried alone. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be one of those times. For staff at Carolina SeniorCare — a Lexington, N.C., nonprofit provider of PACE services sponsored by United Church Homes and Services, a Newton, N.C.-based ministry providing older adult housing and services — the task was masks. Lots of masks. And the answer was a sewing bee.

“Once COVID-19 came, we were made aware of the need for masks, for our participants and staff,” says Tina McLeod, chief marketing officer for United Church Homes and Services. Carolina SeniorCare’s Jasmin Archible-Harris, marketing and enrollment coordinator, and Tammy Broadway, life enrichment coordinator, devised a plan to make the masks.

Using the sewing machines at the center, staff members pitched in and made masks, cut fabric, donated fabric and elastic, and even made monetary donations to buy the necessary supplies. Most volunteers were first-time sewers.

“I had never used a sewing machine before, but I knew I wanted to help,” says Archible-Harris. “Staff members who knew how to sew were willing to show me how, and it truly was special knowing we were all working together to best serve our participants.”

In addition to staffers — and the mother of one staff member — making masks at home, four participated in the bee. “All together, we made around 125 masks,” McLeod says, acknowledging that the process was a bit “trial and error.” For fit and comfort, the team made adjustments along the way.

Some of the 125 masks packaged and ready for distribution.

Participants in the Carolina SeniorCare program, who are unable to attend at the moment because of the virus, have been particularly grateful for the extra effort. “Since the participants to not attend at this time, we made masks to be put in the their wellness packets,” says Broadway. “We made the masks for participants and staff to ensure safety during this crucial time. Everyone looks very stylish, and I am very proud of our handiwork!”

With masks safely tucked inside the packets, the activity and transportation departments worked together to ensure that participants were at home when the packets arrived.

In Old English, “bee” means “a prayer or a favor.” The Carolina SeniorCare Sewing Bee prayerfully made masks to fit all shapes and sizes of faces. But for the staff and participants who need to stay safe, the handiwork that created the colorful masks answered their prayers.

Adds McLeod, “It was nice to see participants wearing the masks we made, and also, during the wellness calls, hearing them be so thankful for receiving a mask. That is what it was all about.”

PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) is a comprehensive health care program designed to address the needs of older adults who wish to remain in their community while receiving needed medical and supportive services. The program focuses on prevention and wellness with a commitment to enhancing the quality of life for older adults and their families through care and support. Carolina SeniorCare is proud to offer this service to its local community.