Helping Community One Stitch at a Time

April 22, 2020 - Dorene DiNaro

masksWhile the UNM community is learning how to navigate its new ‘normal’ in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic one member of our pack is helping others cover their faces—one stitch at a time—and housing a cadet who needed her. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Evelyn Fleming-Cavit served as the administrative assistant for the UNM Army ROTC program—a role she still holds, just remotely now.  And while her days are filled with making sure the program is running smoothly and effectively, her nights and weekends consist of making facemasks to help cover the Governor’s initiative to provide 7,000 masks for healthcare workers.

“My husband who works in healthcare told me that the community was going to face a mask shortage and people in his and other essential fields wouldn’t have the protection they need,” she says.  “I love to sew, so I figured why not use that skill to help out. 

Fleming-Cavit uses fabric she already has on hand and any donated fabric to create the double-layered cotton, muslin, and fabric tie masks.  To date, she has been able to sew 45 masks with a goal of hopefully making enough so that every UNM staff member has at least one mask.   

“I feel like as a community we should be pulling resources and making sure that everyone is safe,” she says.  Right now, she is donating the masks where there is the greatest need and to those on the frontlines.  “So far, I have donated masks to medical workers, military personnel, family, food workers, and UNM staff that I’ve run into.”

In addition to helping provide lifesaving masks, Fleming-Cavit is also helping to fill another need—a home away from home for one of the program’s cadets.  “At the beginning of the pandemic when we received word that some of our students would have to move out of the dorms, I became concerned about where some of our cadets would house so I reached out and offered them a place to stay,” she says

Consequently, some of the cadets were given an exception to stay in the dorms, but one of them whose parents live out of state took Fleming-Cavit up on her offer feeling that their daughter would be more comfortable staying in a house with easy access to food.  And while it is not normal practice for students or cadets to stay with UNM staff, these are not normal times, and Fleming-Cavit says the cadet has become a member of her family.

“My husband and I have a blended family of four kids and our only child left at home is our 16-year-old daughter,” she says.  “My daughter and the cadet get along great and it’s nice for her to have someone older around that she can learn from.”

Fleming-Cavit is humbled by the thought that people would think her actions are anything special.  “My faith guides my actions and I believe in paying it forward,” she says. “We should use our experiences whether good or bad to encourage others.”

Anyone wanting to donate fabric to help the cause can email Fleming-Cavit directly.