How a Hobby Can Ease Human Suffering

Kendall Barrett, Social Work Student, Sews Masks for Vulnerable Communities

As COVID-19 began to place vulnerable communities at risk, Kendall Barrett (Master of Social Work ’21), a long-time quilter, decided to use her skills to improve others’ lives. Barrett had an impressive stash of cotton fabric at her disposal and has been sewing fabric masks for long-term care residents, individuals experiencing homelessness, kinship support groups, friends, family, and neighbors. Working with her adult children who are quarantining with her, they have made and distributed hundreds of fabric masks to date.

“I have a skill that is useful and I cannot fathom watching members of my human family suffer without doing whatever I am able to do to help. This is not a time to only take care of yourself,” says Barrett. “The pandemic has shown me how important it is to work together for the safety of all humanity. Every bit helps—any act of kindness is valuable, no matter the size.” Barrett learned to sew from her grandmother, who would be proud of her granddaughter’s acts of kindness.

Kendall's niece and nephew wearing masksBarrett thanks her mentors in the Department of Social Work who have modeled creative methods of supporting others. “During my time at Mason, I’ve had the opportunity to work with social work faculty in several adult day and long-term care centers on non-pharmacologic interventions for older adults living with dementia and, as a result, establish relationships with older adults and their caretakers. I’ve also attended research meetings where I work with the social work faculty brainstorming ways to improve the lives of older adults.”

Barrett encourages anyone who needs masks to contact her at