Community theater group making masks for seniors

NOW: Community theater group making masks for seniors

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. — Sewing up support for those without masks in Michigan.

One of the oldest community theater groups in Michigan is working to give hundreds of handmade masks to area seniors.

This comes after Governor Gretchen Whitmer released an emergency order that everyone in Michigan wear masks while out in public.

And this act of kindness shows how again and again through the pandemic the community has decided to step up and make sure that the community has what they need to make it through.

And for the Twin City Players, who had to cancel the rest of their 2019-2020 season due to the coronavirus—they have found that their seamstresses are not only for making costumes.

“And I’ve been a seamstress since I was about 5 years old” says Julie Smiy, one of the TCP’s managing seamstresses, “so when I can back and the kids wanted to get involved in theatre costuming was the perfect place to go.”

But Smiy never expected the stage or the world to go dark due to a pandemic.

“I mean whoever thought we’d be in a pandemic this is the 21st Century” says Smiy.

So now everyone in Michigan, including the Berrien Community Foundation, is scrambling to make sure they can provide for their communities needs.

“So when one of the BCF members received the request for masks she knew a group of seamstresses who kinda didn’t have anything else to do right now” says Smiy.

As of Monday April 27th, the Tcp seamstresses and volunteers donated 152 masks of their 1400 mask goal to the Area Agency on Aging.

“Were up to over 20 volunteers now!” says Smiy.

All of them have been raiding their own fabric bins, the extra costume fabric from the theater, and using money from the Frederick S. Upton Foundation Grant to make as many masks as they can.

“It’s wonderful because even if we exceed our numbers for this there are so many other agency’s who need the help” says Smiy.

The camaraderie that has come from this project and the support for the community has reminded Smiy why she considers TCP family.

“It has just renewed my faith that we are all going to survive this” says Smiy “that our theaters will come back to life again we will have audiences we will have shows we will have projects to work on again and that people still want to be involved.”

And for the Twin City Players who is a staple to the Michigan theater community, this experience has broadened their horizons on how they can continue to be a part of the community in different ways.

“Were community theatre that’s what we do!” says Smiy, “To be away from each other and to not be working on those projects together has been really tough. So this past week working on this project has been such a blessing for all of us.”

If you are able and willing to help: there are spots open for you no matter your skill level!

“Some of us can crank out 40-50 in a day some people can only do 10 or 15 a day and I’ve told them all it doesn’t matter if you do 5 a day it’s all adding to the numbers and the more if everybody does 5 masks a day we can get through this pretty quickly” says Smiy.

To contact the group you can visit the Twin City Players Facebook page or email Julie at

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