Sewing For Good – RSVP Volunteers Sew Face Masks for Community

(Estherville, Iowa) Northwest Iowa Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) volunteers shifted their focus from quilting in groups and other in-person volunteer opportunities to turning passions for sewing into making critically needed fabric face masks when Iowa instituted COVID-19 procedures.

Across the 5-county Northwest Iowa RSVP service area, over 20 volunteers have made and distributed over 2,500 cloth masks to area health care agencies, long-term care facilities, neighbors, retirement centers, family, and friends.

One Emmet County volunteer, Jeanne Egeland in Estherville, completed more than 1,000 fabric masks and distributed them to Pearl Valley, Homestead, Avera Holy Family Hospital, Windsor Manor, Emmet County Emergency Management, Union Pacific Railroad, Faust Beauty School in Spirit Lake, and even donated some for children age 2 to 4 to the Emmet County Public Health Department.

“I like to sew; my sewing machine is my therapy. Since I have to stay close to home, sewing masks is my way of giving back. I’m also crocheting ear savers. I could sew the ear savers, but it’s fun to crochet, and this way, I give my sewing machine a break.” explains Egeland, an RSVP volunteer.

A group of quilters in Kossuth county shifted gears and produced over 800 face masks as well. The Kossuth County quilting group is currently focusing on making fabric masks for children.

As industrious volunteers ran short of the cotton fabric or the elastic needed for the masks, RSVP staff facilitated a donation/exchange which matched volunteers with fabric to share with those in need, all observing social distancing.

“Northwest Iowa RSVP volunteers are motivated to make a difference and inspired to help others. My heart warms to know how the willing spirits of RSVP volunteers answer the needs within our communities, even finding a way to make a difference from the safety of their homes!” explains Dawn Bernhard, Director of Northwest Iowa RSVP.

In addition to masks, volunteers continue making Quilts of Valor, sewing lap robes, and clothing protectors for area long-term care facilities, producing baby quilts for hospital neo-natal units and quilting for others in need.

The Northwest Iowa RSVP volunteer program invites anyone 55+ to join in making a positive impact in our community during this time of need. To join RSVP, please contact Bernhard at

For More Information:

RSVP Dawn Bernhard at 515-295-8522 or