Published on October 13, 2020

The Woman’s Club of Concord Sewing Nearly 7,000 Cloth Masks

Cloth masks on a sewing table with thread and scissorsA local organization boosted a century ago by a victim of the Spanish Flu pandemic is helping Concord Hospital keep its patients and staff safe during today’s COVID-19 pandemic.

The Woman’s Club of Concord has organized members and other volunteers to make cloth facemasks. As of late July, several dozen volunteers had made nearly 7,000 masks, plus several hundred ‘ear saver’ headband attachments that help prevent chafing the ears of healthcare providers now wearing masks for hours at a time.

“It’s been a perfect storm of needs coming together, in that obviously the Hospital and so many other institutions had tremendous needs, but the sewers had needs, too,” said Deborah de Peyster, a Woman’s Club member. “We’re all stuck inside thinking, ‘what can we do?’”

They started sewing.

Volunteers avoided personal contact to safely pick up materials and drop off finished masks on the porch of Barbara Ruedig, a Woman’s Club board member and long-time Hospital donor and volunteer.

In an interesting link to the pandemic of the last century, the Woman’s Club is housed in Chamberlin House on Pleasant Street. Nellie Chamberlin, a club member, left the home to the club in her will. She died in 1918 of the Spanish flu.

In addition to the Hospital, the volunteers have donated masks to more than two dozen organizations, including New Hampshire State Prison, visiting nurse organizations, retirement communities, nursing homes and first responders.

And, they’re not done, especially now that so many have rediscovered their sewing machines.

“Having really enjoyed being able to do something that makes a difference, we are going to look for something going forward that we can do for the Hospital,” de Peyster said.