The first mask took the longest for Wendy Wetzel to sew, but before the end of summer, she was making 100 every day.
An expert at mobilizing volunteers, Wetzel is the Team Leader for Days for Girls International in Flagstaff.
In the spring Days for Girls, an international relief organization providing menstrual hygiene products and women’s health instruction to girls and womxn, issued a call out for masks. That’s when Wetzel discovered Threaded Together online. An email was sent. A handshake partnership formed.
Normally, with 30 core sewists and nearly 140 local volunteers, Days for Girls keeps a menstrual supply chain running like a well-oiled machine. Wetzel, proverbial oil can in hand, led the charge as hygiene kits turned into face coverings. Days for Girls joined forces with us, shifting gears and churning out thousands of masks for our neighbors in need.
“[This partnership] was a slam dunk!” Wetzel says. The ladies on her team made more than 15,000 masks before October. Some ladies, who Wetzel calls her “super sewists,” made 2,000 masks EACH.
“I have never sewn as much as I have in the last seven months,” Wetzel explains. “This is the kind of thing I have a lot of energy for. I would sit at the machine for hours at a time. I wanted to get masks done and done right. Being involved in something bigger than me is important.”
Now that mask needs are less urgent (as in some cases face coverings are more widely available), Days for Girls has returned to their regular projects- preparing 50-100 hygiene kits to be dispatched to Honduras at a moment’s notice. Our time working together isn’t over, however.
Through the initial days of this crisis, a handshake partnership quickly became a tight bond between dedicated sewists. “I really think of Threaded Together as a coalition of sewists who are interested in more than sewing. I love your mission to work with women at risk and teach skills that can turn into a profession,” Wetzel says. She has agreed to help integrate Days for Girls skill training into our STEP program, and may soon be a familiar face on our board.
In middle school, a home economics teacher gave Wetzel a failing grade for her sewing. “I hope you never touch another sewing machine,” The teacher had said.
In true Wendy fashion, complete with her signature spunk, Wendy replied, “Bet me.”
We are glad she did.