By Leslie Simon

Before Governor Polis suggested that the state of Colorado switch to a mask culture and “make it cool” to wear cloth face coverings when we go out in public, our Arvada Center family members were already hard at work creating their own. Dance Department volunteers Patti Wagner and Helen Lee were supposed to be sewing dance costumes for the now-cancelled dance recitals, but came up with the brilliant idea to get the other volunteers involved and sew masks for health workers and first-responders instead.

(Patti Wagner sewing)

“Sewing for me is cathartic and relaxing,” said Wagner. “Since I can’t work on our dance shows, I jumped on the opportunity to participate in something that benefits those who so willingly jump into battle to help all of us.” Fellow Dance volunteers Hannah Stoehr, Melissa Hambli, Jen and Tae Rushneck, Julie Koehler and Christina Vigil all happily switched gears to use their talents to help save lives, and many more from our other volunteer programs also enthusiastically jumped in to help make masks for hospitals, nursing homes, neighbors and family.

Our volunteers’ efforts coordinate well with our corporate sponsor SCL/Lutheran Medical Center’s “Operation We Can Sew It” mask-making initiative. With this program, volunteers sign up and are sent the pattern for a mask that has been approved for Saint Joseph Hospital and SCL Health facilities.

(Masks by Julie Koehler)

If you are an Arvada Center Volunteer, this is a fulfilling opportunity to earn hours while our event programming is on pause! Even if you aren’t a volunteer, this is a great activity for anyone who has sewing skills to make a lifesaving impact on their community, and we have included the link at the bottom of this article.

Behind the scenes, our costume and props departments are using their talents to help as well. “Instead of attending Opening Night for Something Rotten!, I find myself making masks for a neighbor's veterinarian clinic, friends, and family,” said Costume Designer Clare Henkel. “While I feel that what we do as artists is vital to making us human, this simple act feels very powerful and important right now - each one of these I make is truly a labor of love.”

(Masks sewn by dance volunteers)

Not only are Arvada Center community members making masks, but they are creating hats that meet PPE standards as well. “My daycare provider asked me to help make hats,” said Properties Shop Manager Meghan Markiewicz. “Another parent there works as a nurse for Lutheran, and requested hats with buttons, because the elastic over the ears all day is uncomfortable. The material I am using is from Small Mouth Sounds, which never got a chance to open. I love that part of the play can live on in a different way now.”

No matter where you look, people are sewing and doing their part. Are you looking for an opportunity to use your own sewing skills to help? Sign up for SCL Health’s “Operation We Can Sew it” program today and you can join the others in being a modern-day Rosie the Riveter. For more information on this program and to sign up to receive a pattern, visit their website.

Operation We Can Sew It

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