She’s a sewing machine!
Cody-Rae Fowler is doing what she can to help Prince Edward County flatten the COVID-19 curve.
The 16-year-old from Picton has put her sewing skills and unexpected free time to use by making face masks for anyone in need during the pandemic.
Fowler, a Grade 11 student at Prince Edward Collegiate Institute in Picton, is lending her sewing skills to the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.
Fowler loves to sew and currently operates Scrunchie and Go, an online shop on Facebook where she designs, sews and sells hair scrunchies and pet accessories among other handmade items. When she heard that there was a need for personal protective equipment, including masks in the community, she knew her passion could help the cause.
“I felt compelled to help when the news around COVID-19 began spreading throughout the community,” she said. “I knew I could do something to help people feel protected during this uncertain time. Usually, I am sewing scrunchies and pet bandanas, so I knew I could sew these masks and fill a need.”
Fowler is quick to note the masks she has sewn are not the N95 masks worn by medical staff when treating patients in hospitals. Hers are the type that have been recommended by health care officials, as something that can be used, alongside physical distancing, to prevent the spread of the virus.
Since starting on March 27, Fowler has lost count of the number of masks she has sewn but estimates she has created between 1,500 and 1,750. When she is not working a shift at Mark’s Chip Truck, she is set up at her Nanny’s kitchen table, with Netflix streaming in the background, sewing for anywhere between eight and 12 hours at a time.
Each mask takes her between five and seven minutes to sew. At times she enlists the help of her Nanny, Betty Branscombe and Mother, Barb Fowler to help her with cutting fabric or ironing the masks. On Sunday, April 19, Fowler, with the help of her family, produced 90 masks; her biggest yield in one day so far!
“They’re the best!” she said, referring to her family.
She sells each mask for $3.00 and has only recovered costs of about $330. Fowler has raised $3,210 for the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation’s Back the Build campaign.
“My mom and grandmother work at PECMH so I have a personal connection to our hospital. At first I thought I might purchase $3,000 in gift cards to hand out to staff, but then I thought about how much a new hospital is needed in the County,” she said. “A new hospital will change the face of the County.
If you live in Cressy, you’re a 30-minute drive to Picton and then an additional 30 minutes to Belleville if you need a hospital. It’s important to have a good hospital, close to home, and I want to help keep one in the County.”
“We are ‘sew inspired’ by Cody-Rae’s County-first approach to how she has helped this community during such difficult times,” said Shannon Coull, executive director of the PECMH Foundation. “Her efforts have truly been a labour of love. She’s helped so many people by making them feel safe while out in public. This donation will help build our new hospital. She is investing in the future of health care delivery in Prince Edward County.”
Fowler learned to sew from her Nanny who works in the housekeeping department at PECMH. “My nanny is my best friend,” she said. Fowler has been staying with her grandmother during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking ahead, Fowler is eager to get back to business as usual and focus her effort on sewing scrunchies again, when she isn’t working on chemistry homework while physically distancing.
“I love to sew, and I want to be a nurse one day. Giving back to the community that raised me seems ‘sew simple’. Donating these proceeds to a hospital that I may work in one day just feels right,” she said.
“We are so proud of Cody-Rae,” said Coull. “She is kind-hearted and is always putting people first. It’s nice to see her selflessly giving back to our community hospital during this unsettling time. Cody-Rae embodies the true spirit of philanthropy! Knowing Cody-Rae, in a few years’ time, she will be walking through the doors of our new hospital as a nursing graduate, going to work on the front lines for our hospital,”
Pictured in front of the Emergency Department at PECMH on Monday, April 27 from left is Shannon Coull, executive director of the PECMH Foundation and Cody-Rae Fowler of Picton who presented PECMHF with $3,210 for the new hospital campaign.