The year 2020 has been filled with uncertainty and distress. In these troubled times, it can be difficult to find the good. In the midst of the chaos brought on by COVID-19, however, one group of New Horizons seniors banded together in a grassroots effort to help keep their community safe.
Resident Ann Sassi’s daughter, a nurse at a local hospital, knows firsthand the importance of covering ones’ face to slow the spread of the virus. When she contacted Ann for help supplying her fellow frontline workers with face coverings, mom knew just what to do. Ann enlisted Sue Abrahamsen, Sandy Campbell, and Ann DiMilla—fellow independent living residents in New Horizons’ Meadows building—and formed the Meadows Maskers. Using their crafting skills as a force for good, the quartet began creating face coverings for those who needed them the most.
“Instead of sitting back and worrying, we wanted to do something constructive to help,” said Ann S., who has called the New Horizons home for more than 10 years. “My daughter knew who to call.”
Lifelong seamstresses Sue and Ann S. assumed the majority of the sewing responsibilities, creating as many as 25 masks between them each day. Meanwhile, Sandy and Ann D. were charged with collecting and preparing the materials used to create the garments. Through a carefully wrought ten-step process, the pair gathered, washed, ironed, and stretched the fabric, making the most of their resources so that none went to waste. This assembly line-style approach allowed each face covering to be made safely and efficiently, as each Masker completed her role individually from the socially distanced safety of her own apartment.
“The work of the Meadows Maskers is a prime example of how our community is meeting COVID-19 head on,” said New Horizons executive director Betsy Connolly. “The responsible behavior we’ve seen from our residents and staff has made all the difference when it comes to minimizing risk.”
As time went on, the group drew the interest of other New Horizons residents, who started helping the cause by gathering more raw materials for the Maskers to work with.
After crafting more than 4,000 face coverings for the New Horizons at Marlborough community, frontline healthcare workers, local daycares, and even a Taunton soup kitchen, the Meadows Maskers have hung up their sewing needles for a much-deserved break. If the need should arise again, however, all four women are more than willing to get back into the protective garment game.
The Maskers were not alone in their efforts to keep the senior living community safe. As a result of everyone’s combined efforts, New Horizons was found to have zero cases of COVID-19 after the Massachusetts National Guard visited the campus on April 28 to conduct testing for 301 members of the independent and assisted living community. Only two residents have tested positive to date.