By Lisa Carolin
The Material Girls, Chelsea’s talented team of seamstresses and crafters made famous by their annual Hometown Holiday Children’s Christmas bazaar, currently have a different calling in the fight against coronavirus.
Members of the Material Girls have sewn and donated more than 635 masks to the United Methodist Retirement Communities, which include the Chelsea Retirement Community.
The request came from Steve Fetyko, president and CEO of the UMRC and Porter Hills, who is married to Material Girl Treasurer Kristy Fetyko.
“I saw a Facebook post of people making masks in New York and asked my husband if he’d be interested,” said Kristy Fetyko.
Steve Fetyko asked if it would be possible for the Material Girls to make masks for staff and residents at the CRC, anticipating that there will soon be a shortage.
“We are thrilled the Material Girls thought to include Chelsea Retirement Community in their effort to make and provide face masks.,” said Steve Fetyko. “Healthcare across the country is experiencing challenges in getting all the personal protective equipment, face masks being a key one, we need. We are relying on our current stocks, but knowing we have these ready to go when our incredible care and support teams as well as residents need them gives us some very much needed peace of mind during these challenging times.”
A pattern for the mask was chosen and the pattern link was sent to Material Girls members. The mask requirements are that it cover the mouth and nose and have elastic straps to go over the ears.
“We’re using cotton for the fabric, which we’ve got plenty of, but it’s incredibly difficult to find elastic,” said Janie Brooks, a member of the Material Girls’ leadership committee. “I’ve been sewing seven hours a day, and each mask takes about 35 minutes.”
Brooks says that Material Girls President Kelly Stoker and Kristy Fetyko keep boxes full of supplies on their front porches for members to access.
Some Material Girls who don’t sew but want to help have been tasked with finding elastic and making 100 birthday cards for a CRC resident who is turning 100 this week.
“We’ve also been collecting a large batch of cards for the St. Louis Center with notes of encouragement,” said Kristy Fetyko.
Social distancing has removed one of the joys of being a Material Girl – working together.
“We don’t even get to see each other,” laments Brooks, but says being able to help with the masks is like therapy. “It’s a good thing to have something to occupy your time that hopefully is helping others.”
As far as things go for the staff and residents at the CRC, Steve Fetyko says, “There is naturally fear and worry with all people are seeing on the news and especially since senior living communities across the country are restricting visitors in a daily effort to limit risk of COVID-19.”
He added, “Within our communities I do see our team members stepping forward and doing an incredible job of adopting and changing our practices to meet or exceed all CDC (Centers for Disease Control), CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid), state and local health department guidelines and regulations.”
Our residents are also doing a wonderful job of adopting to much different ways to live under these guidelines and the state’s Stay Home Stay Safe order, he says.
“Having said that, isolation is a key concern for all of us regardless of where we live, and we are using as many technology solutions as we can to maintain connections with friends and family,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s Material Girls are standing by for their next assignment.
“Material Girls is such an amazing group of women who just really want to help any way we can,” said Kristy Fetyko. “When we get the call, we go gangbusters!”