When the project started, we had only one sewer and one sewing machine. And then there were nine volunteer sewers and another eight who are waiting to join the team. Most of them speak Spanish as a first language, so we have a Spanish-speaking program worker helping them register with Sewing for Change, the organization we partnered with to provide the material and handle the logistics. The Sewing for Change Covid-19 Community Initiative provided several sewing machines and Deborah L. from Canada Sews Toronto translated patterns into Spanish.
Project ‘Sew to Protect’
One Wednesday during a Staff Meeting via Zoom, Shakira had an idea she wanted to share. She works in our Settlement Workers in the Community Program and is in contact with many homeless shelters, women shelters and community agencies serving vulnerable people. Her closeness to these organizations made her aware of their need for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). She asked if CultureLink could start making cloth masks to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in these locations. Management readily agreed and a committee was formed. The team searched for partners and began recruiting volunteer sewers to get the project started.
Our goal is to support the essential work of community organizations by providing cloth face masks and other fabric PPE.
We expanded the call for volunteers to not only sewers with sewing machines, but also drivers, professional fabric cutters and office administration staff. The response has been overwhelming, around 100 people await confirmation to start producing and delivering masks. Because we are a Settlement Agency, we encouraged immigrants and newcomers to join the team. When language is a barrier, we help with translation. All residents of Toronto can and should take part in this initiative. We are all in this together.