When New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut were largely shut down due to the spread COVID-19, small businesses, healthcare workers, and residents across the area began to feel the undeniably devastating effects of mass fear and uncertainty. In the midst of this aftermath, it has become goodwill, perhaps unsurprisingly, that has conveyed the true spirit of humanity—particularly in the communities that line the Hudson Valley and its neighbors in Berkshire County and the Northwest Corner of Connecticut. In late March, as foot traffic decreased to near ghost town levels in many area towns, and local healthcare workers began their impossibly long and stressful hours battling the viral spread, two local quilters began to transform their hobby into a mission of community outreach. “Jenn and I both enjoy quilting as a favorite pastime,” says Amiee Duncan who, along with coworker Jennifer Duncan at Northwest Lawn and Landscape in Millerton, NY, started to feel the same urge many startup mask makers felt since quarantine mandates began to take effect. Amiee says, “when the stay at home order was first put in place, Jenn and I began working split shifts at the office. With so much time at home, we wanted to be proactive while still helping our community. So we shifted from quilting to mask making for our family and friends. Word spread quickly and requests began to pour in.”

Workers at Sharon Hospital enjoying a meal made possible by donations toward Aimee and Jenn’s mask making efforts

Amiee and Jenn’s newfound venture, making both pleated and form fitting masks at near machine levels of production, was hardly driven by profit motive. In fact, every shred of fabric and cent of donation money has been fed back into their surrounding community of neighbors, friends, businesses and those who need it most. “We didn’t feel comfortable charging for masks and felt it would be better to pay it forward,” says Amiee. “The response and support of the community from the donations for our masks has been overwhelming — more so than if we charged for them.” Collectively, the pair have made over 300 masks and raised over $ 2,600.00. 100 percent of the donations Amiee and Jenn have collected has been used to purchase lunches for essential workers across the area including at Sharon Hospital in Connecticut, both the Millerton and Sharon Salisbury Banks, the Pine Plains, Copake, Millerton, Amenia and Wassaic Post Offices, Northern Dutchess Paramedics in Wassaic and Millerton, the Community Rescue Squad in Copake, and of course, their local UPS and FedEx drivers. “We are both intermediate quilters using those skills to make masks,” says Aimee. “After trial and error —many, many trials and errors— we have each perfected our own mask patterns.”

Employees of the Salisbury Bank in Sharon, CT. enjoying a lunch made possible through donation

The pair say the response from the community has been overwhelming at times, but the collective appreciation and support has made all of their late night efforts worth it in the end. “We started out just hoping to make the best of a difficult situation,” says Amiee. “We have come to learn since then that the only way we will get through this is together. We still have requests coming in, and for as long as we have requests for masks, we’ll continue making and paying it forward.”






Aimee’s form fitting masks pictured below

Jenn’s pleated masks pictured below

All photos courtesy of Aimee Duncan