Connecting Beyond the Walls

Today’s word of hope comes from our own Rev. Emily Hull McGee, pastor of First Baptist Church on Fifth.

Whoever thought that a pack of sewing women in Winston-Salem would find themselves among the community’s most connected network of at-home responders to the coronavirus?

They most certainly are, and we are all beneficiaries of their creative collaboration!

Project Mask WS, as this collective is called, began as a Facebook group about two weeks ago. Founder Melissa Vickers saw a plea from Deaconness Health Systems, recognizing that there would soon be a mask shortage and asking the community to make masks for medical professionals to wear. Vickers reached out to a couple of her friends — Katie Sonnen-Lee to organize, and Marissa Joyce to market. 

Together, they started the Project Mask WS Facebook group, which as of today, has amassed over 600 volunteers all around our city to measure and cut, pleat and stitch. These volunteers have responded to needs from all across the Wake Forest Baptist Medical and Novant Health systems. They’ve made headlines and over 8000 masks. Together, they have turned their anxiety into action, their isolation into connection, their feeling small in the face of a global crisis into being part of a movement to respond.

I learned of Project Mask WS through Meredith Smith, who posted a picture of her sewing machine and a dozen cheerful masks she’d completed. Meredith runs her own small business, is caring for and teaching her five amazing children right now, and is remaining connected to her vast network of friends who find her to be their safe place of unconditional love. Her hands are surely full in a normal time, but especially now in a pandemic! But as she said, “it gives my hands and brain something to do that feels helpful and useful.”

I have been so inspired by her, and by the hundreds of mask-makers right around us who are scouring local stores for elastic, sharing patterns and fabrics, and channeling their feelings about this moment into a simple yet life-giving and life-saving way to respond.

Perhaps you’re a sewer, and want to join in their efforts! Or perhaps like me, you’re not, but can be inspired by their movement toward one another and our community in emotional proximity in a time that has required physical distance. Such love of community might look like a note to a lonely friend, a thank you text to the medical professionals you know, an extra word of gratitude to your grocery clerk or take-out delivery guy, an afternoon walk around your neighborhood to stop and talk with those who you see. 

No matter what, this is a moment for leaning in, moving toward each other, offering kindness and gentleness to neighbor and stranger, colleague and friend.

This is a moment for loving well!

Together in God’s work of Love,
Pastor Emily

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