by Joyce Mings, Almira
In rural America, you don’t have to look far for the helpers. We help each other out. I did not have to look any further than my own family for this story.
My brother and sister in law, Bill and Molly Shuler, have taken on a task that they never dreamed would become this huge.
In late October 2019, Molly landed in emergency where they found a huge brain tumor. The doctor told them it had probably been growing for 30 years. Surgery was scheduled for the following day. Bill went home that night and prayed hard. He begged that Molly would live through this. If she did, he would do literally anything asked of him for that precious gift. Fast forward to March 2020 and Molly has made a full recovery with no long-term effects. This baffles even the doctors.
As Covid-19 takes center stage in everyone’s life, Bill is finding out through Firefighter friends and the pharmacy he works for that there are no masks available to buy for front line workers. He woke the following Monday morning knowing what was being asked of him. With Molly’s help, they researched the best patterns and materials for homemade masks. Molly worked with a few of the patterns and made a few prototypes. Then on March 16, Bill made a life changing call by contacting Cathy Doer of the Inland Northwest Chapter of the American Sewing Guild. He was trying to find a source for the polypropylene fabric that they had identified as the most effective for the masks. In a matter of minutes, Cathy said, “Let’s go then!” and a partnership was formed. Bill contacted the Spokane Fire Department to get the first order (cost only). They were still trying to navigate the criteria that they had to adhere to. Firefighters had been ordered to wear masks at all times unless they are eating or drinking, but weren’t sure what masks qualified. Therefore, with no seed money, Bill went shopping with $1,500 of his own money for the proper materials.
Cathy had six small shops organized and ready to go in a matter of two days. They would cut kits and sew what they could, as well as get the word out that help was needed. They would also serve as pick up and drop off locations for kits and masks. Those volunteers answered the call with fury! Most of them over the age of 50! By the following Monday they had 1,000 masks and by Tuesday 2,000. As of April 8 (18 days later), they have made 13,692 and distributed them all over Eastern WA. They currently have an order from Fairchild Air force Base for 6000 more.
Bill has devoted 13 to 14 hours per day, every day to this project since day one. His employer still pays his salary because he believes in the mission. Molly makes kits, sews masks, manages their Facebook page and still teaches school! Their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/Masksforhealth/ Find and follow it please.
Each one of these small shops have donated hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of material and untold time to this project. Every once in a while, Bill will ask Cathy if the volunteers can continue. The answer is always, “Of course!” Their last big project was Joey bags for the orphaned kangaroos due to the Australian wildfires.
The project needs your help. There have been days when they have run out of funds and didn’t think they could continue. The masks each cost $.50 to make. Some that have been able to pay have given $1.00 a mask, but they still need more money to continue. If you would like to make a donation, The American Sewing Guild is a 501 c 3 non-profit.
You can send your donations to American Sewing Guild-Inland Northwest Chapter
2026 South Manito Place
Spokane WA 99203
If you want to help or need anything sewing related, please contact one of these awesome shops!
SEW EZ TOO
603 W Garland
16002 E Broadway
5620 S Regal
Quilt Patch Lane
409 W Hastings
EZ Knit Fabrics
5609 US 2
Priest River, ID 83856
Bear Paw Quilting
600 W Kathleen Ave (by Fred Meyer)
Coeur d’Alene, ID
409 1st St
Cheney, WA 99004