Residents and Staff of Boxford Program Sew Masks with Pride, Love, and Care


“If you do a little to make someone happy, it’s often a lot to that person. And when something comes from a kind heart it’s a feeling that’s truly remarkable.” These are words Annie Page (pictured right), Program Coordinator of a May Institute adult residence in Boxford, Mass., lives by.

Annie and her colleagues care for five women with intellectual disabilities. She’s also a talented seamstress who sews beautiful chiffon evening gowns and gorgeous African Ankara wear.

One day, Annie was unable to join her colleagues in sewing masks, so she brought her sewing machine and extra fabric and materials she had on hand to the Boxford home instead. Residents and staff had recently learned to knit, a lesson they had received from Rachel, one of the housemates. If they could learn to knit, Annie thought, then making masks as a group was surely doable. It didn’t take much encouragement. Everyone was in and excited to give it a try!

Annie showed residents and staff how she cut the fabric, and taught the group to sew by hand. Over the course of six hours, they diligently prepared the masks. Sarah, one of the residents, washed them and housemate Jennel meticulously did the ironing. “Everyone participated in whatever way they could,” said Annie.

“When we were all finished, we put on our masks to take a photo (picture left). That’s when it seemed to become real for the ladies,” said Annie.

“Oh Wow! I can’t believe we made these!” Jennel shouted in excitement.

Annie quickly reminded the women of the benefits of teamwork and the importance of believing in themselves. “This is what we can achieve, and more, when we work as a team. When we put our minds to it, we can do it!” The group donated nearly 30 cloth masks to May, each made with great pride, love, and care.

“Our goal is to maximize the abilities of the individuals in our care, and to keep them engaged and happy,” said Annie. “Staff go above and beyond in an effort to do this every day, and to make sure that the residence is running as smoothly as possible.  It’s a great group of residents and staff, who are funny, kind, and willing to help each other.”

Annie has a special relationship with the women. It’s the type that’s endearing. She’s given each a nickname because, as she says, “these ladies are precious and loved, and it’s part of my bond with them. I call Jessica, JLo; Sarah, love-it-love-it; Caroline, the youngest, is my little talking bird; A-buka-buka is what Jennel and I call each other; and I refer to Rachel as ‘my boss.’

“I love what I do. I am taking care of people who need my help. It’s my passion. It’s about togetherness. At the end of the day, it’s about what I have done.”

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