Standing six feet apart, wearing masks over our smiles and seeing loved ones on screens rather than in person has certainly made many of us feel disconnected. At least it did in the beginning. But as we learn and grow together during this pandemic, many of us are finding that some of the things we thought would be keeping us apart are actually bringing us together.
Take the Women’s Department here at Cumberland Heights for example. As staff was cleaning out to move to the lower level of the Hazel Hawkins Martin building, an old CH t-shirt featuring the historic bell tower was found. Case Manager Michelle Johnson knew just what to do with it.
“I thought I’ll bring it to Alison to make a mask,” said Michelle.
Alison Scott is an admissions counselor and the campus “Master Crafter.” She has been accepting fabric donations and making stylish, yet safe face masks out of them – each to match different staff members’ personalities.
“That’s how I met Michelle. She knew I had sewn masks for family members and some other Cumberland Heights employees. She came in and asked if I could make her a mask out of the old t-shirt. Before she left my office that day, she had arranged for me to make five masks for staff in the Women’s Department. When I was done with those, she picked out fabrics for several more co-workers and it just continued from there. I believe she has taken care of everyone in the Women’s Department at this point! But she didn’t stop there. She came to me the next day and picked out fabrics for staff in Medical Records. Needless to say, I had to switch out my tiny sewing machine for the big one at home. She seems to know everyone, and I hear that staff is really excited when she brings them a mask she has picked out just for them,” said Alison.
It only made sense for Michelle to ask Alison to make her a mask out of the t-shirt with our logo because it reflects the passion Michelle has for the CH family.
Melissa Hudgens, Director of the Women’s Program says, “Michelle takes time every day to check on different departments. She knows how important connection is for us all, especially during COVID-19. She has just always had a great spirit.”
Why so much spirit?
“The positive attitude/energy comes from a meeting I attended almost six years ago while working in Extended Care, or what was known then as the Professionals Program. We all introduced ourselves with our name and credentials. When it was my turn, I stated, ‘The only license I have is a driver’s license.’ Robert Albury, the Professionals Director at the time, asked ‘Do you have a felony?’ My answer was ‘Yes’, and he said ‘Welcome.’ From that point on I felt part of a family who accepted me for me and did not judge. I knew then that I could be myself and the result is what you all see as I walk the grounds of CH, giving back what was freely given to me. My outlook on life is ‘Every day is a good day to have a good day!’” said Michelle.
Alison quickly caught that infectious attitude and looks forward to the new orders Michelle brings.
“I enjoy visits from Michelle and love being able to make masks for specific people. It gives it a more personal feel. Through Michelle I have met and learned about staff I might never have gotten to interact with. (I tend to be a bit of a recluse in my office). I think what is going on in the world right now has united people in a way not much else could. We are all in this together. No one is exempt. I have only been at Cumberland Heights since October, but I quickly learned that this is a community, a family if you will, and not just a business. People genuinely care about each other and take care of each other. I like helping take care of my new family! I enjoy making the masks, but mostly I enjoy the feeling I get doing something nice for others. Plus, I get to shop for fabrics that make me happy and I like thinking about how they could make others happy,” said Alison.