Volunteer Spotlight: Gratitude to a generous young mask maker

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” -Helen Keller

In today’s blog, we recognize an extraordinary young person and volunteer, Michaela Buckley, who answered a call for help with a challenging mask-making request. As we all struggle to adjust to a “new normal” during the COVID-19 pandemic, masks have become a priority and a regular part of our daily lives, protecting ourselves and others from infection. In May, when Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced a statewide order requiring everyone in the Commonwealth to wear a face-covering when they are in public and cannot be at least 6 feet away from others, personal protective equipment was difficult to find. Dozens of community members offered to sew cloth face masks for Latham staff and residents.

We received a special request from our friends at Transitions Centers, Inc., and were fairly certain our Latham friends or families could help. Transitions Centers is located in Yarmouth and provides Day and Employment Services to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, social anxiety, and other life challenges who are transitioning to greater independence. Transitions also offers services to individuals with deafness or hearing loss, most of whom rely upon lip-reading to communicate – not an easy thing to do while wearing a mask! The staff at Transitions were looking for cloth masks sewn with a clear plastic insert to make it easier for those with hearing loss or deafness to lip read. Latham’s Director of Development Heather Kelsey reached out to her network of volunteer mask sewers to see if they might be able to help. Heather shared, “Apparently, it is not easy to sew masks with a plastic insert. The material is not easy to work with, nor is it forgiving.”

Michaela Buckley is a rising freshman at Andover High School. In addition to excelling academically – especially in math and science – loving her dog Molly, and playing basketball and soccer, Michaela serves as a peer mentor for her school’s special education program. Michaela and her mom Nancy learned about Transitions Centers’ request through Facebook and reached out to offer to help. Michaela’s aunt is deaf and has spent her career working to support children and adults with hearing loss. Inspired by her aunt and the desire to help others, Michaela has been learning sign language through an online class this summer. When she learned of the need for “lip reading” masks at Transitions, Michaela asked her aunt to recommend a pattern and volunteered to sew 40 masks for the staff and individuals at Transitions.

The generosity and kindness that we have received from Michaela – and so many others – are among the many silver linings of this challenging time. From all of us at Latham Centers and Transitions Centers, thank you, Michaela, for your gifts of compassion, time, and creativity.


Submitted by Heather Kelsey, Director of Development

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