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Winners Announced for 2020 Sewcial Impact Awards

Thrilled to announce the winners of the 2020 Sewcial Impact Awards. The Sewcial Impact Awards is in memory of Brigida A. Odango and recognizes hobby sewists who volunteer their sewing skills, time and resources to help serve their communities. Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations. It was very difficult to pick recipients from the numerous deserving stories, so a generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous helped DOUBLE the pool of award recipients.

Thank you to Singer Sewing Company and JOANN Fabrics and Crafts for the prize support.

In alphabetical order, this year’s Sewcial Impact Awards recipients are:

Amanda Negron, nominated by Mark Westwood April Hawkins Killian, nominated by Aimee DeSanto Becky Eggen Dawes Brie Maldonado, nominated by Amy Nieves Elizabeth GL, nominated by Sam Iivari Santee Jessy Gillespie, nominated by Amber McElroy Ryan Moore, nominated by Tim Moffitt Thao Conrow, nominated by Jessy Gillespie Tori Ashley Sica, nominated by Christine Conrado Staskiewicz Valeria Zarnowiecki, nominated by Sofie Jo

Amanda Negron

SINGER Dress Form & JOANN Gift Card

Nominated by Mark Westwood:

Amanda has worked her fingers to the bone sewing masks for Yucaipa and the World since the very start of the Pandemic. Amanda has sewn over 600 masks, and has organized their distribution through out our town, the world, and for front line responders. She has led at least a half dozen others to do the same. She has continuously sewn life saving masks for over 50 days...

Amanda has named it the Assemble Avengers Project.... Every donation to the Project, no matter how small, goes directly into the purchase of fabric, sewing supplies, and even postage, putting masks into the hands of those in need, and helping to ensure that no one is turned down for lack of ability to pay (and helping me not go broke as she works to save the world). The project is whimsically called the Avengers Assemble Project to entertain children also, and make them feel safe too.. The masks have super hero themes, and motivate children to keep wearing the masks for their safety. She can found to be dressed as an Avenging Seamstress!

April Hawkins Killian

JOANN Gift Card

Nominated by Aimee DeSanto

I am proud to nominate April Hawkins Killian for the Sewical Impact Awards.

April has been sewing since 2018. A mother of 4 children from ages 3-10, she has been a dedicated homeschooling parent since 2015. April taught her eldest son how to sew a mask which is awesome!

April started making masks for the Community by asking in a homeschool page if any medical professionals needed cloth masks and a local NICU nurse replied back that they were ok for now but she anticipated they would need them. She wrote back an hour later and was like “Help! They said to bring cloth masks tonight!” April had started by making her 8 masks that night. She posted that on Facebook March 20th... and has been sewing nearly every day since. April has made 600 masks to date. She has made masks for a Pediatricians Office in VA, a physical therapy office in VA, a NICU Ward in Texas, a bunch for a Texas National Guard Unit, Baltimore Police Officers, a Texas State Trooper, Air Force medical personnel, Marines where her husband works, and the Coasties at his unit. She also made a large order for an Army medical unit in Fort Hood and she is finishing up an order for an urgent care Center back in Maryland, and X-ray tech in a Delaware. She has made masks for families as well. April does all this voluntarily. I really appreciate how she also helps others by posting different techniques and information about different supplies that can be used to make masks. She has also begun exploring ways to make masks that help those who need to lip read. April is also a Coast Guard reservist, so on top of her volunteer sewing for the cause, she is teleworking and ensuring her team are still meeting all their expectations and Reserve obligations and are ready to deploy if called upon. April’s hard work has positively impacted hundreds of people. Her hard work and dedication to her community in Texas and her previous community of Virginia are an inspiration to anyone who wants to reach out and make a difference.

Becky Eggen Dawes

JOANN Gift Card

We’re making masks full-time in the Chicago burbs; my 92YO mom, myself, and my daughter. We’ve donated to health care providers and long term care facilities and inmates, at least 1100 masks so far!

Brie Maldonado SINGER Dress Form & JOANN Gift Card

Nominated by Amy Nieves

I would like to nominate Brie Maldonado. Initially stay at home mom and daycare provider Brie was inspired to sew masks for healthcare workers who didn't have the proper PPE to protect themselves. When she started to see various posts by other individuals who were looking for materials to do what she was doing, she had the foresight to create a group (or really an army) of volunteers to sew masks for HCP and Chicago Mask Makers was born. In a span of really only six or seven weeks, this amazing collective of 1,700 talented volunteers have made and distributed over 7,000 masks to health care facilities and hospitals all over Chicagoland. This group is far from slowing down and is committed for as long as it takes. And it all started with one big-hearted individual who saw a need.

Elizabeth GL

JOANN Gift Card

Nominated by Sam Iivari Santee

I nominate Elizabeth GL. She is a full time teacher and mother and found time to donate 50 masks to local hospitals, delivery personnel and family/friends in need. She also found and posted a trick to use fitted sheets for the ties, this allowed protection for those with allergic reactions to elastic and a great reuse of existing materials.

Jessy Gillespie SINGER Steam Press and JOANN Gift Card

Nominated by Amber McElroy

I would like to nominate Jessy Gillespie of Shreveport for making masks, coordinating over 15 state chapters of Sew You Care, with hundreds of members in each group. We also have one international chapter in Canada and Jessy has organized us all. She has spent her own time, money and energy to make these masks, and it’s all no charge. I don’t have specific numbers but I do know as a team across the nation we have gotten out over 10,000 masks. It’s not be easy for her, but she never threw in the towel once. I would like to humbly submit her for this honor.

Ryan Moore

JOANN Gift Card

Nominated by Tim Moffitt

I'd like to nominate Ryan Moore, a soon-to-be graduate from UofA Tucson in Costume design and his teaching/class responsibilities ended due to covid19, he and the students dedicated their free time and sewing efforts to make masks for first responders and healthcare professionals free of charge. The last time I checked, he had coordinated and filled literally hundreds of requests from as far away as St Louis MO! Early during the shutdown, local news station highlighted his efforts and I believe a link to the news story/video still is viewable on his Facebook page. In my opinion, his efforts and talents make him an outstanding nominee for a Sewcial Impact Award

Thao Conrow

JOANN Gift Card

Nominated by Jessy Gillespie

I would like to nominate Thao Conrow

I am currently heading up the movement Sew You Care. I can tell you right now Thao has been one of the most amazing people I've ever encountered. She has sewn literally thousands of masks and sent them all over the country. She has paid for it out of pocket and has done an absolutely amazing job. Her masks have gone so many places and protected so many people. She never asks for anything for herself and does this because it's just how she is.

Tori Ashley Sica

JOANN Gift Card

Nominated by Christine Conrado Staskiewicz:

I would like to nominate my daughter Tori Ashley Sica for the Sewcial Impact Award. My daughter Tori didn’t know how to sew but she was happy to learn how to make masks. Now we’ve made over 900 masks and today we plan to hit the 1,000 mask mark. Tori and I made a video to celebrate hitting the 900 mask mark. We live in Atlanta, Georgia.

Valeria Zarnowiecki

JOANN Gift Card

Nominated by Sofie Jo

I’m writing this on Mother’s Day. A day I would normally spend with Valeria Zarnowiecki to celebrate her and what an amazing mom she is. Instead we did a virtual phone call and celebrated from afar, I’m sure like so many other people have had to do during this time, and now I am spending the time writing why I am nominating her for this award and why she deserves it. My memories of my mom sewing for us start from when we were young and she would whip up a Halloween costume or make American Girl doll dresses to match outfits that my sister and I had. Over the years it has morphed into First Communion dresses, prom and Homecoming dresses, t-shirt quilts, pajamas, curtains, aprons; you name it she has made it for one of my siblings or I! When I became a Special Ed. teacher and needed very specific items for my students with different special needs my mom was the first person I went to and every time she delivered- she has made me weighted vests and blankets, specialty Velcro boards and covers to help my students learn, learning boards with buttons and ties; I could go on and on!

And of course now she has been using her amazing talents and goodwill to make face masks for front line workers! When people first started needing face masks my mom unquestionably went right to work- sending a dozen to my brother’s girlfriend who works in a hospital in Detroit, sending another dozen to an aunt who was in the hospital for an injury in Cincinnati. As she get more involved she found a group on Social Media called Chicago Mask Makers. This group has created a distribution center and supplies the masks to health care professionals all over the area and in places of needed, which was ultimately her goal. Since she started sewing the masks she has made over 500 masks for this group alone! During a five day stretch she made 120 masks, and won bakery goods to be donated to staff at a local hospital. She has sewn over 100 for a senior center, near where she lives and for a nurse’s group at University of Chicago.

Over the last eight weeks that our state has been in quarantine, anytime I have called or chatted with my mom she is either sewing masks, distributing the masks she’s sewn, or figuring out how to get more fabric and supplies to sew more masks. My mom makes me proud every day, but I’m especially proud of how she has used this amazing skill of hers to help as many people as she possibly can right now!

Thank you for sharing your sewing stories of community service, and may you all continue to be healthy during this COVID-19 situation.


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