The Seamsters

Brenda is a member of River Song Cohousing in Eugene OR.  Like most cohousers, she is involved in community far beyond that boundaries of their still-building cohousing community.  The following article describes and example of the community spirit that draws people to cohousing, is nurtured there, and then pours back out to the wider world.  

Little things.  A couple of yards of quilting fabric. 

Noticing “Seamsters” on Facebook.  

My sewing machine that had traveled with me for years.

 A text: “can you deliver some fabric?”.  

My simple “yes”.


When the lockdown began, I knew I would be sewing, as it is meditative, allows me to listen to novels, and produces something creative.  Sewing, unlike baking, yields a treat with zero calories!  What I had not expected, was that my actions would help save lives and make my heart sing!


On Facebook find “The Seamsters: Facemasks for Health Care in Eugene-Springfield, Oregon”  or website:  https://seamsters.org/.   Volunteers include non-sewers who wash, dry, and iron material; iron bias strips, are drivers, and of course stitchers.  As of April 11, we had provided 16,354 masks to local health care workers and had a request list asking for 15,361 more!   


It was over a week before I actually stitched my first mask.  Other sewers needed material and thread dropped off at their homes, in ‘no contact’ manner.  I have taken fabric and picked up finished masks from Seamsters living in homes from every economic region in our community.  Seamsters, like those at risk from this virus, are as different as the colors of a rainbow, yet   together they are bringing hope in this new world.


I am grateful to be a part of this band of local citizens.  This is how democracy works: we are voting for life, for people we will never see; one yard, one cut, one stitch, one mile at a time.  All of us, each doing invisible work, socially isolated but united in our commitment to help our unseen neighbor.  Together we are making a difference.  


I am grateful to be a part of this band of local citizens.  Each mask I sew takes me about 30 minutes;  I am getting a bit faster.  Some experiments with my own fabric have been given to family, friends, neighbors, and the workers at my favorite food truck.  


In doing these little things, together, we are not just providing protection for health care workers.  We are healing our own hearts, broken open by this virus and our country’s response. We are practicing new ways of being community by doing little things.


“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God


Brenda Wills, member of River Song Cohousing in Eugene, Oregon

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