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Featured Volunteer: Amy Loar

So this is Amy and Phil Loar...two long time supporters of Bikes for the World. We've already highlighted Phil before and we truly can't say enough about this guy, but this time our focus is on his wife Amy who is an avid quilter. And as you might guess, has her own sewing (or quilting) circles. She helped us close the circle on a local mask making effort popping up in a basement in Takoma Park.  

Recently past board member John Burg reached out to us to see if we had any sewing machines he could borrow. He and his wife Heather wanted to make masks to distribute locally to anyone who needed them. Here's where Phil, and Amy come in. The week before Phil had dropped by with a car full of sewing machines. Really. Five to be exact, in perfect working order. They were now sitting in our warehouse ready to ship but with our containers grounded they weren't going anywhere fast. So we offered them to John and his makeshift 'sweat shop' in the basement.

But how did Phil come across five working sewing machines in one trip? AmyAmy regularly helps get the word out to her quilting circle that Bikes for the World accepts used sewing machines. Phil then thoroughly inspects them to confirm they are working properly and makes any repairs needed before donating them. He even goes online and prints out the manuals, which he admits are in English, but he says, "it's better than nothing, right?" 

Back to the story in the basement- John is still tweaking his assembly line but hopes to ramp up production soon. He and Heather have given out a few dozen masks while also delivering food to elderly residents in the area. Most of the masks have gone to staff working in these apartment facilities. Meanwhile across town, Yvette Hess, Outreach Coordinator is also tucked in her basement wrestling with pins and bobbins making masks for her wife who is an essential worker in Maryland.

Just like our partners are doing overseas,  Board Chair, Karen Hendrixson wanted to support local mask making efforts. Karen has been purchasing her masks in Arlington to help support two women struggling through this pandemic by making masks. She feels good about putting money into the local economy, supporting those affected families, and she feels great about not needing to tap into old faulty sewing skills. This also gives her more time to assist Taylor who is focused on navigating us through this tough time.

Amy has also only made a few masks for family. She did donate a large tub of material to a friend who owns a nail salon, NIB Studio. That friend is making masks to keep her employees working. They've made 160 masks so far. Yvette has since decided she has been going about this all wrong. No need to reinvent the wheel, it's already turning. She is now making arrangements with Karen to order masks and close the chapter on mask making 101. If you've found yourself in the same boat and need to simply say goodbye to that old sewing machine, remember Amy's message, Bikes for the World accepts sewing machine donations!

Bikes for the World has donated nearly 800 sewing machines to date to half a dozen partner programs around the world. Costa Rica receives the bulk of our sewing machines where small entrepreneurs use them to grow and improve their community businesses. Our partner in Costa Rica is also supporting local businesses by purchasing face masks directly from their clients; read more about that effort here.


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