2020 was the year that sewist became the Rosie Riverter’s of the world! We fired up our machines and Masked America!

As a child, I would play the game “let’s go on a lion hunt” with my cousins and friends. We began by sitting in a circle, clapping out a beat, clap, clap, then two more claps on our legs, to build momentum for what was to come. As the beat became louder, we would shout “got your hat, got your coat, got your boots, got your gun…” Once we felt well equipped for what lay ahead, someone would shout “Let’s Go” and off we went on this imaginary journey.

If you have played this game, then you are aware there were obstacles to overcome, the first was usually a wide river. The clapping would stop, and, as we assessed the situation, someone would shout, “can’t we go around it”? The group would reply, “NO”. Can’t go over it, can’t go under it. Then the next question was asked, “can we go through it”? The reply, “NO”. Then the decision was made to go through it together. Again, someone shouted, “Let’s go,” and in unison, the clapping began to meet and defeat every barrier we encountered. After each victory, we always said, “WHEW, we made it!”

It’s funny what I remember most about this imaginary journey. It’s not seeking the lion, but it’s the faces of the ones I was with, the circle made up of my brothers, cousins and friends. I recall how we came together in unison, marched to the same beat, and each time an obstacle was conquered, we looked back and said “whew, we made it!” It’s kind of like this year.

Many of us had a vision of what 2020 was going to look like. I know I did. Just 10 months earlier, I had taken on one of the most exciting positions in my sewing career. But, only weeks away from carrying out my new duties as the director of Workroom Central, all plans came to an abrupt halt. Together we had to assess what our next steps would be. We were on hold.

Fewer than 24 hours later, I received a private message, asking for my help to spread the word that the Boston area had been hit hard by COVID-19. The first responders in this area desperately needed masks due to the shortage of PPE. The very next day the group Mask America was born.

Perhaps like me, you did not think you were equipped to weather the storm of a pandemic, but unknowingly you were. Each of you put all selfish thoughts aside and stormed the group, armed to meet each obstacle together. We had talent, machines, supplies and fabric. When we ran out of supplies, you were innovative, caring, supportive and resilient.

At times it was intense. Behind the scenes many were in disbelief, some grieving and even angry. The private conversations both warmed and broke my heart. Prayer was in big demand. Many tears shed, countless prayers prayed, and yes, I asked the Lord, “why me”? Then I was reminded of a line I read in the book ‘Broken Hallelujahs’ written by Beth Allen Slevecove. The adage reminds us, “What is in the way, is the way.” In this real journey called life, sometimes we must go through it, but always know that in the midst God is there and so are each of you.

As this crazy year is ending, what I remember most fondly is all of you. I picture us in this huge circle, and it is the humming of our machines that creates the music for us to keep going. As we faced obstacles, many of you rose to offer solutions, created new patterns, swapped or donated supplies and offered to take the lead when necessary. You were unstoppable! You made a difference, and for that, I am grateful. At last count, over 150,000 masks have been shipped all across the United States to first responders, friends and family members.

So in that vein, this trophy is for you! Y-O-U received the highest award in our industry. I am humbled that Grace McNamara, Publisher of WF Vision Magazine, honored the work from Mask America and bestowed upon us the Industry Achievement Award.

So, what’s next?


I didn’t begin 2020 with this being my word for the year, but I’m ending it with this word. Many have said it was not the year they planned or expected, but it taught them to slow down and embrace. It was the year of resiliency! We cannot erase 2020, but we can move forward. Look for the positive this has taught us. Find the gratitude in every day. Filter out what needs to go away because sometimes it’s the necessary endings that make way for new beginnings.

So, what is your word as we end 2020? Feel free to share in the comments so we can continue to encourage and inspire each other. I know I look forward to reading each and every one of them!


Sandra V

Book ‘Broken Hallelujahs’ By Beth Allen Slevcove