Masks can’t hide hundreds of smiles for selfless seamstress

Wearing masks cover a face for protection, but for Aspire4Life’s Regional Assessment Service (RAS) workforce, they can’t conceal hundreds of reasons to smile.

18.09.2020

Older lady with a sewing machine

Sparked through a conversation between Northern New South Wales based Aspire4Life Clinical Lead, Jacqui Butler and her mother, Robyn, the kindness and skills of the Bangalow seamstress saw the delivery of the 250 washable and reusable masks, ready for use in only three weeks.

Teaming up with husband Frank who was on measuring and cutting duties after materials from the Lismore and Ballina areas were sourced to complete the project, Robyn, 73, said while she’d been able to light up many a face, it was her who had been smiling the brightest.

“My mother taught me how to sew, and I’ve done everything from wedding dresses, lounge covers, curtains, hemming, knitting, crocheting and repairs, although, I’d never done face masks,” Robyn said.

“But when Jacqui spoke to me about issues with face masks and asked me if I could make some, I said, ‘yes, I can do that’ straight away’. I made a few and she said they were great, so I did more.

“I really enjoyed it, and I love doing things to help and seeing people smile. It was lovely and I really enjoyed doing it.”

How masks are making a big difference for Aspire4Life and the community

On the front line as Home Support Assessors as part of the government’s My Aged Care program, the RAS workforce’s specially made face masks ensure comfort and safety as well as the safety for those receiving assistance through the delivery of in-home assessments in local communities.

Fashionably made with fun patterns, the masks also provide safety through three layers of material including a colourful outer layer, a filter layer and an inside fitted with soft cotton.

Jacqui said after work begun on the masks on July 31, Robyn personally delivered the first 45 in just six days, before the full batch was delivered on August 11. Greatly received and proving very popular, Jacqui said the masks would not only ensure safety and peace of mind, particularly in the current climate, but unparalleled comfort for those wearing them.

“To conform to government regulations, the masks need to be a 180-thread count, but these are a 220-thread count on the outside, with the soft flannel on the inside making for a 240-thread count,” Jacqui said.

“I used to work in the emergency department as a nurse, and disposable masks that aren’t environmentally friendly can be uncomfortable hurt your face and can quickly become soggy and ineffective.

“The elastic can also rub behind your ears, but these ones have ties for comfort. They’re also nice and comfortable which is an important feature as they can brighten people’s day and be comforting and an icebreaker.

“We’ve sent one out in an appreciation pack to every one of our assessors and they couldn’t be happier.”

Now the masks are in the possession of assessors, Robyn said she’d be happy to repeat the amazing gesture by making another batch in future.

But with 250 lives brightened amid countless more in the community who’ll have peace of mind and enjoyment through seeing assessors in their colourful masks, Jacqui said she was “super proud” of her parents’ selfless and tireless efforts for others.

“Dad used to be a paramedic in Byron Bay; he loves to do his bit, and when he gets his little role from mum, they’re a super team together,” Jacqui said.

“They’re both quite independent, but mum uses a wheelie walker and they both have underlying health issues, but they’re super supportive and have that real sense of community.

“Making these masks has been great for mum and it’s really done her the world of good. We really appreciate and need her, but this has given her a real sense of purpose in the wider community.”

For more on Aspire4Life and the opportunities we provide, visit our careers page here.