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Kay Swank, 90, keeping busy making masks at Silver Maples

Courtesy photo from Silver Maples of Chelsea. A resident and her bunny wear masks made by Kay Swank.
Courtesy photo. Silver Maples of Chelsea. Kay Swank at work making masks.

By Lisa Carolin

Silver Maples resident Kay Swank needs to keep busy, even when activities at the senior living facility are on hold during the coronavirus quarantine.

The almost 90 year old has relied on her sewing machine during her career as a home economics teacher and now as a hobby that includes sewing masks.

Swank has sewn 40 masks so far for staff at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea Hospital and more for friends and staff at Silver Maples.

Swank said, “I’m glad I have this as a project.”

“She tweaked the design that was going around the internet to add a filter slot on the mask and to make it a little more comfortable around the nose,” said Emily Meloche, director of programming and wellness at Silver Maples.

Swank, who says she misses the social activities at Silver Maples, was teaching a painting class to residents.

“I love to paint with fabric and make beautiful wall hangings that tell a story,” she said. “I’ve got boxes and boxes of material.”

Swank says the masks take time because she uses a double layer of cotton in the front of the masks and a lighter weight cotton in the back.

“Our residents and staff continue to make good use of these masks and really appreciate them,” said Christina Kim, director of marketing and sales at Silver Maples.

Courtesy photo from Silver Maples of Chelsea.

“I sew every day,” said Swank, “and also do quilting and mending. I can sew anything I want and not be bored.”

She also likes to take walks three times a day on the grounds of Silver Maples and is teaching herself to play the ukulele.

The telephone is her connection to family and friends.

Swank says that she has never experienced anything like this pandemic, but sewing is helping her through it.

Swank advises, “If you’re a sewer, get sewing! It’s awful to have a machine that just sits there.”

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5 thoughts on “Kay Swank, 90, keeping busy making masks at Silver Maples”

  1. Nice job Kay! And Hooray for all home ec teachers! Thank goodness for mine way back when. I too am sewing masks for friends, family, etc. Using style like yours. Not sure what the modification you’ve made for the nose- would be interested. I’ve started sewing in an unused twist tie which can be molded to the nose.

  2. What a great inspiration! Sew Kay Sew! This is a winning attitude! Thank-you for all you are doing!

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