Hometown Heroes: Regina Hawley used her skills to connect a community

  • When masks were seemingly impossible to find, Regina Hawley of Concord solved a problem for her community. ALLIE ST PETER / Monitor Staff

  • Regina Hawley at her Concord home. ALLIE ST PETER—Monitor Staff

Monitor staff
Published: 12/17/2020 8:54:53 AM
Modified: 12/17/2020 8:54:43 AM

She made masks for big-bearded men, flower girls in weddings and anyone else in Concord who might need one. And Regina Hawley did it all for free.

“She really is an angel for her selfless gifts to so many,” said Deb Isme, one of the people who nominated Hawley to be recognized as a Hometown Hero.

Hawley, 58, grew up the youngest in a family of eight in Ludlow, Mass. When she was 10, her oldest sister, Mary, taught her to sew. Regina was hooked and started taking sewing lessons at the local Boys’ and Girls’ Club. She started selling her fabric creations about 15 years ago, became a juried member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen in 2013 and even opened her own store in Contoocook, Salt & Spool, which closed in Sept. 2019.

When the pandemic hit in March, Hawley lost her creative spark, but her Allison St. house was still full of fabric, and her family needed masks. She ended up making more than she needed, so she put them in bags, tacked them to a corkboard and left them outside for anyone who needed one. Which, at the time, was just about everyone.

“Her husband (Kerry) would help her make them and twice a week they’d set a board of free masks out and notify the neighbors through social media. The lines on Allison St. were always full of grateful South Enders,” said Jemi Broussard, who also nominated Hawley.

Hawley used a mask design that was approved by the Center for Disease Control and only made small adjustments over time to ensure she was sticking to the guidelines. She said it takes her about seven minutes to make a mask, and that Kerry is a huge help when it comes to cutting the fabric and elastics. His full-time job is designing microchips as a layout engineer, so you can bet his cuts were precise.

“He does not waste any fabric when he cuts,” Regina said.

The Hawleys moved to Concord five years ago from Hopkinton, and Regina, a self-described introvert, said this mask experience has helped her meet her neighbors. She refused to take any money for the masks, so people started leaving gifts - homemade cookies and jams, flowers, honey, gift cards and things like toilet paper and hand sanitizer when those were hard-to-find items.

“I would wake up some mornings and there would be a message on the sidewalk in front of my house from a little kid,” Hawley said. “Just so many great people, and some of them still come by, I don’t know who all of them are, but they know this is the house where they got their mask. It’s really, really wonderful.”

She’s not exactly sure how many she made, but it was close to 5,000, and the Women’s Club of Concord gave her some extra masks to add to her board when the need was greatest. Hawley recently had some surgery, and most people have plenty of masks now, so she has stopped making them. But if anyone does still need a well-crafted face covering, Hawley said she would be happy to arrange something.


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