Parisian Dressmaker Creates Masks for Betel Volunteers!

Since March of this year and the onset of the pandemic, our community has witnessed many amazing acts of kindness and compassion. Karen Hecker and her wonderful friend, Rachel Lewin are role models who exemplify the generosity of the human spirit.

A group of volunteers, led by Karen Hecker were making scrub caps for hospitals.  Karen knew her friend’s mother-in-law; Rachel Lewin was a seamstress and asked if she would help. Rachel responded, “Sure, with pleasure” but felt she would be more skilled at making masks for front-line workers. She then researched on the internet to learn how to make masks.

Karen supplies the material and distributes the masks to community groups and seniors homes.  Rachel contributes her skill and outstanding workmanship to create the masks.

Through social media, Karen learned the Bernard Betel Centre was continuing their essential Meals on Wheels program. Rachel decided the next project would be creating masks to the front-line volunteers delivering meals. We thank Rachel and Karen who have generously donated 310 masks to our Meals on Wheels program. 

Karen says, “My role has really just been to open the door for her and she has taken off.”  We wanted to learn more about Rachel, this compassionate, caring and artistic woman who will celebrate her 88th birthday this December.

Rachel Lewin’s parents were born in Warsaw, Poland.  They both moved to France where they met and were married. At the young age of 14, Rachel worked alongside her father, who was a tailor in Paris. This is where she developed her skills as a seamstress. In 1961 she came to Canada, where she worked for a brief time in a factory and then set up shop in the basement of her home working as a dressmaker and doing alterations.

Rachel was a widow at the young age of 54. Her husband passed away in his 65th year. Their goal had been to travel once he retired and she has kept their dream alive travelling with friends to many destinations including France and Spain. Rachel is blessed with 2 sons and 5 grandchildren who live in Toronto and North Carolina. In addition to having her friends in Toronto, she has kept close contact with a school friend from Paris who she has met up with on her travels.

She starts her day doing housework, creating masks and spending time on the computer, searching the internet, checking Facebook and playing games. In the morning she likes to sew on the machine. When the weather is good, she sits on her balcony in the afternoon and attaches the elastic to each mask.

Since April, she has created a total of 972 masks which she has generously donated to the community.  When asked what has motivated her to volunteer, she says, “I am happy to be doing something useful.  I want to help someone as long as I am needed.”

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