LAMOINE — Kasey Jordan has been helping her community for years. And she is only a junior in high school.
The Lamoine resident, Mount Desert Island High School and Hancock County Technical Center student and Girl Scout is often found working on initiatives that benefit her neighbors.
Currently, Kasey is busy sewing masks that she can sell to raise money to fund her project to earn her Gold Award for Girl Scouts. Her work is having a ripple effect, reaching the Ellsworth High School Gender/Sexuality Diversity Alliance (GSDA) and even local businesses.
The Gold Award is the most prestigious a Girl Scout can earn, according to the organization’s website. Achieving the award requires identifying an issue in the community, thoroughly researching it and acting on a plan to combat it.
Kasey decided for her project to raise money and build a transitional housing unit for local female veterans experiencing homelessness.
“The whole idea is to bring awareness that this type of housing is needed for female veterans,” especially those dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and other traumas, said Kasey’s mother and troop leader, Lori Jordan.
“Veterans are a big deal in my girls’ troop,” which includes Ellsworth High School senior Lily Philbrook, Lori added. The troop has spent the last several years laying flowers on veterans’ graves, serving them breakfasts and Thanksgiving meals and working with Wreaths Across America.
Kasey and Lily were named the co-citizens of the year for Lamoine in 2019.
Building the 24-by-24, two-bedroom, two-bathroom structure by September 2022 will be a new venture for Kasey.
“That’s why we have volunteers, to make sure I’m hammering in the right places,” Kasey said.
Together with Lori and her dad, Timothy, the family spent their quarantine making 5,200 masks that were donated to Maine Veterans Homes in Bangor, Mount Desert Island Hospital, Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital, Courtland Rehabilitation and Living Center, Hancock Grammar School and even a care facility in Rhode Island.
Since that donation effort, Kasey received permission from the Girl Scouts to start selling her masks. The sales will add to her other fundraising efforts, which have included bottle and can drives. For her recent birthday, Kasey asked for bottle and can donations.
“Guess what, I definitely got some bottles and cans,” she said with a laugh.
The mask production includes Tim cutting the fabric and doing the first round of sewing, Kasey adding the elastic and turning inside out to press the mask and add pleats and Lori finishing with the top sewing.
“When we’re all in sync and working on them, we can do 50 to 100 masks a day,” said Lori.
For more information, visit Kasey’s page on Facebook, Tiny Steps Maine.
Carrie Kutny, an Ellsworth High School teacher and advisor to the school’s GSDA club, caught wind of Kasey’s mask-making efforts and found a way to partner with her.
Kutny’s students are working to raise money to organize events in June to celebrate Pride, the national movement that celebrates the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) community.
“I had that lightbulb moment,” Kutny said, when she thought to partner with Kasey.
Kutny purchased rainbow fabric to give to Kasey to make the masks and will split the profits with her after deducting the cost of materials.
Her students are working to fill orders safely during the pandemic, which has led to getting the masks into local businesses.
The plan is a win-win-win, said Kutny. The GSDA club has a fundraising initiative, Kasey will earn money for her project and local businesses may attract more shoppers.
Masks will be available to purchase by the weekend for $10 at Flexit Café and Bakery, Elizabeth’s, Bliss, Coastal Interiors, Poppy and Polka Dot Boutique, Sugar Mags, Second to None Thrift Shop, Union River Book and Toy Co., Toko Ellsworth and online at Fogtown Brewing Co.
Fire Chicks Photography has offered to take photos of the masks for the club’s online sales.
Pride events the students would like to organize include parades (for both pandemic and post-pandemic scenarios) and art installations.
“We’d really like to hang rainbow flags for the month of June,” Kutny said, noting the students will have to go before City Council for permission.
The club went before the council back in August with a proposal to paint several city crosswalks rainbow colors to show support for the LGBTQ community. The proposal was denied by the council in a 3-3 vote.
“I think [the students] were a little surprised,” Kutny said of the decision. She noted that her students are resilient and are continuing to work on ways to work with the city to show support for the LGBTQ community.
Kutny said public support is critical.
“At the end of the day…schools can’t fix everything. The community has to step up and acknowledge this is a problem and bigger than the public school system,” she said.
For more information and to order a mask, email [email protected]