Allie Aguirre and Amy Ben-Ezra, co-founders, were very concerned about their immigrant neighbors who did not benefit from stimulus monies, unemployment benefits, or public assistance. We, as volunteers, wanted to create a means for them to earn some income while working in a safe environment and caring for their children at home, since schools were closed. We also wanted to:
- create a sustainable means of support for the sewers
- follow non-profit & fair-trade principles
- offer a high-quality, highly effective mask
- provide much-needed PPE, ongoing, for the community
- be eco-conscious by producing reusable rather than one-use masks, by using fabric and sewing machines that were going-to-waste or might otherwise end up in landfills, and by using minimal packaging
- involve the community in a cross-cultural endeavor
- teach new sewing and business skills that immigrants could use on their own or when newly-employed in the future
- and provide the basic tools & machines that would allow them to do so.
We immediately connected with 8 immigrants (now 16), enthusiastic about volunteering for the project and knowing that there'd be no stipend money initially, but having faith that that would change. They began sewing. Their enthusiasm has been inspiring.
Posting on a local list-serve, many neighbors began donating sewing machines, fabric, elastic, advice about machine maintenance, and made offers to help. Small monetary donations and an anonymous loan got us started for supplies that were not donated. Using an ordinary email, mask orders began to come in, but not at a rate that would sustain these immigrants. We joined with a local 501c3 organization and received an outside grant to assist the sewers with critical bills while we waited for sales to increase. Those funds helped pay for food, gas, or half a month's rent.
We are now able to pay fair stipends to our volunteer sewers, and have ample inventory, but without greater mask sales, the project will not provide sufficient ongoing support or meet our other goals.
Now, with this website & social media, we are poised to become self-sustaining! Please join us in our goal. Buy masks, make monetary donations, or volunteer.