GREELEY, Colo. – The Trinity Quilters have been serving their local community for 15 years. Normally, they sew quilts for those in need, but the past three weeks have been a little different.
“We like the challenge. Quilters are creative. That’s all there is to it,” said Trinity Quilters leader Thea Hammers.
Hammers says the group was asked to sew masks for healthcare workers. The initial goal was 500 masks, but the group of 22 ladies has already sewn more than 700 masks in three weeks.
“I can do 10 masks in an hour," Hammers said.
Even with social distancing, they were up for the task.
“The first couple days I had to charge my phone three times because that’s how many calls and stuff I was getting. And most of them were people saying, ‘I’m on board, just let me know,'” Hammers said.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, about seven women from the group gather six feet apart to make mask kits.
They give the kits to the rest of the sewers, who are safely staying at home. When the masks are done, they’re returned back to the group and then given to a local mental health center.
Micaela Sanchez with North Range Behavioral Health in Colorado says they asked for the masks when their medical director noticed the coronavirus situation escalating in Europe.
“We had some in stock, but we knew that we were going to run out quickly,” Sanchez said.
North Range stays open no matter what because the center offers support for people living with mental illness.
“We can’t turn the doors on them and then have them lapse back into the dysfunction,” Sanchez said.
Now, the North Range behavioral health workers, nurses and psychiatrists have enough masks to feel safe.
“Our staff is joyful and thankful and grateful, and they feel loved, they feel supported, and that only translates to how we’re able to provide that service to our clients,” Sanchez said.
Hammers says the Trinity Quilters are happy to help others, especially because it gives them a sense of purpose during these times when almost everything is shut down.
“If you’re in a home alone and you get up and you’re like, ‘what am I gonna do today… oh I can make masks. I can help somebody,’” Hammers said.
The thought of having a purpose and spreading positivity makes Hammers emotional because it reminds her of hard times this country has faced in the past.
“I keep flashing back to my mother during World War II. She made gloves in a glove factory. Everybody helped. And that’s what it feels like now. It feels like this world, in the worst of times, is coming together. They’re coming together as a family… as a community,” Hammers said.
She says she’s proud of her sewing family and she knows her mother is proud of her, too.
"The first few days I was sewing, I swear I could feel her patting me on the back,” Hammers said.
Hammers says the Trinity Quilters will continue making masks until this is all over, keeping their eyes on kindness and generosity – two positive side effects of humanity during this pandemic.
“This is the worst of times, but I believe it can be the best of times, too,” Hammers said.