Friends General Conference

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A Quaker Community in Medford, New Jersey

130 Masks For Migrant Worker Outreach

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Lately, a persistent humming sound has been reported in some neighborhoods.

It is not a cause for concern.

It’s the reassuring  sound of sewing machines—dozens of them, running at odd times of day and night to meet a new and pressing need.

For some years, as Gail Zeigler explained, the Peace and Social Concerns Committee of Medford Friends Meeting has been providing 100 welcome kits items for migrant workers who come north for the annual blueberry harvests. The kits contain bandanas, washcloths, socks, bath soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, wrapped candies, note paper pads, ball point pens, peanut butter crackers and clothespins.

Now, in the face of the pandemic,  hand-made face masks are a unique and urgent necessity. 

 Dory Dickson, co-founder and director of Migrant Worker Outreach, began visiting migrant camps to welcome farmworkers during the 2010 blueberry harvest. (Learn more about the extensive Outreach organization at Dory welcomes the Meeting’s long involvement in providing help in a variety of ways to migrant workers.

 “Especially this year,” she said, “when migrant children will miss the summer education program, when churches might cancel services at the camps, when few visitors drop by, the small comfort we deliver says, we care about you.”

“After all 100 kits were filled,” Gail said, “a member suggested that we include handmade face masks ––knowing that the workers would need them. Dory was thrilled with the idea so we enlisted the Quilting/Craft group from our Medford Meeting and off we went!!”

In short order, 130 masks were delivered to Dory.

It wasn’t the first time the mask makers’ group has stepped up to their sewing machines to answer this specific call for help.  Masks have been provided to other volunteer groups including  Catholic Charities, Wiley Mission in Marlton, and Trenton Psychiatric Hospital.

Word had also come from Medford Leas Continuing Care Retirement Center where face masks were needed for all residents and staff.

“The word was put out to residents along with a post on Facebook to the local community,” said Jane Weston, Director of Development and Community Relations at Medford Leas. “I was flooded with emails, texts, and calls from all who wanted to help. It was truly a heartwarming project.  From early April until now,-we have graciously received 1,600 masks.”

 At this point, Jane explained, Medford Leas is in a “stand down” mode-but ready to crank up should the need for more arise.

Along with the Medford Quaker Meeting group,  mask donors to Medford Leas included residents from both campuses, staff members and family, local community groups, Berry Basket Quilters, African Violet Society,  West Jersey Rose Society, and SJ Camera Club. 

                                                                                    Carol Suplee

            Member Medford Friends Meeting