This is the most selfish thing I’ve ever asked for, but it is for the most deserving person I know. My name is Lily Meade. I am a young adult author with a small social following that I have used to help my family launch a mask business this year. Laurie Makes Masks launched this March as a hope to keep my high risk 63 year old asthmatic mother home and safe from COVID.
Since then, she alone has sewed over 5,000 masks and protected hundreds of families. She checks over each mask herself and is so dedicated to quality she’ll redo an entire mask if the threads are not perfect, hands off “rejects” that are perfectly functional if not cosmetically stunning to me and my brothers while she starts from scratch.
My mother works 10 hour days on $300/$400 Walmart machines. They are not made for long hours and hard days. We have two and a free machine we picked up from someone we met online. One of our machines broke the Sunday after our Black Friday sale, heading into the repair shop for three weeks and a $250 price tag.
When we went inside the shop to see what they could do, I watched my mother look at the fancier machines they had for sale. I watch as she explained to me what a long-arm quilting machine does, how one of the machines could sew at ten times the speed hers does, watched her sit in front of an embroidery machine that costs as much as our car but then look at me and assure me not to worry because she’s “only dreaming.”
I listened to her when we got in the car afterward, trying to figure out how to budget this unexpected repair with what was left of our sale profit after our dryer broke the day before and I told her—I said, “I wish we were in there picking out one of those machines for you instead of fixing one that broke at the worst time.”
And she said, voice casual but full of a certainty that gutted me, “It’s okay. I’m not worth a machine like that anyway.”
When we got home, I started crying in the privacy of my room. I felt like such a failure of a daughter not to be successful enough to treat her to the retirement a woman her age should have. I want so desperately for her to know how deeply I value her, how crucially I understand everything she has sacrificed for me to chase a career as impractical as novel writing, how she has never let me feel poor in affection even when we lived in a Walmart parking lot.
I want to empower her the way she has always empowered me.
We are an extremely low-income single parent family who have been homeless twice and are currently still fighting not to lose our current home to gentrification and a better selling than renting market. I have asked for help several times before and I know my social capital is likely low, especially given that this time I’m not asking you to save our home or replace a broken appliance.
I’m asking for something entirely material, a “want” and not need of the highest proportion—but also the culmination of a dream for a woman who has dedicated her life to empowering her children with passion for their future and who has devoted her all to a product that has protected thousands this year. I’m asking for your help in fundraising a machine that will meet the needs of a full time business.
A machine that can grow with the innovation and creativity of a woman who looks at material she picked up to sew birthday presents and decides to sew masks by the thousands in a pandemic. A machine that can allow us to pivot Laurie Makes Masks into a business that can still work after masks become less crucial to daily life.
I am asking you to help me show my mother that she is a valued and worthy, not just by me but by those she has helped keep safe.
You have already given me so much, so please don’t feel obligated to contribute and please know that I am grateful for each and every one of you every day. I will be, forever. I know we will make it though no matter what.
But if you would like to help me, I called the Sewing shop and asked them about the two most appropriate machines and if they still have them in stock. They do, and they are still on sale, but if they sell them they are gone. I can put one on a layaway program if we have 20% down but that is still a challenge.
The first machine is a high powered, professional sewing machine by Viking. My mother invested in a Viking for $1,000 in the 70s and it lasted her 35 years before it broke. This new model is called the Epic and is super fast, with a touchscreen monitor with hundred of different stitches and settings for various types of fabric. It would not conk out on her after long days and intensive projects. It was/is on sale for $4,000 from a normal price of around $9,000.
The second machine is literally called The Dream Machine. It’s a super-powered embroidery machine normally worth $16,000 but the sewing shop has a refurbished one for $7,000. My mom has a sewing friend with two of these machines and before the pandemic would countdown to sewing “playdates” at that woman’s house, where she could experiment and design the most incredible things.
My mom has wanted a Dream Machine for ages, but this machine in particular was the one she told me she didn’t deserve. It is the one I would most like to get her.
I know I am asking for a lot. I know that it is a very hard and difficult time for many, including us, and most people are likely struggling to keep food on the table with no space for charitable giving. Or figuring out how to bury those they love lost to this pandemic, which is a much more worthy cause than this. I know that it’s unlikely to reach the target, but in the spirit of Christmas and dreams I’m willing to give it a shot.
Maybe we could raise enough to get her a smaller, but better than Walmart machine. Maybe we don’t hit that but get enough to pad the costs of winter bills.
If you’d like to help, but don’t like GoFundMe, I have:
Again, I am beyond grateful for every customer and every friend who has helped us help others throughout the year. Thank you so much for listening to me wax about how much I love my mom and I hope you all have a happy holidays and the best new year.
Also, if you are in the market for masks, please shop LaurieMakesMasks.com.
- Nicole Sweeney
- Ronica Davis
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