Amy Watson

Avid seamstress Amy Watson started making masks after being furloughed from her job at the Columbus Metropolitan Library. Tim Johnson | Columbus CEO

Amy Watson

As COVID-19 spread across the planet, the virus tested the character of the population. Some people spoke out against the necessity of lockdowns, social distancing and (most virulently) wearing masks, insisting the disease is nothing to worry about. Others, like Amy Watson, rose to protect others.

Furloughed from her job at the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Watson was unsure how she would use her newfound time. She figured she would spend more time with family and keep up her sewing business, Amy May’s Sewing & Alterations. Then a client called with a special request, and Watson found her role in the pandemic.

“I had a client ask me about making a mask for her kid, because she couldn’t find any masks to buy anywhere,” Watson said. “So I said, ‘Yes, I would do it,’ and I only charged $5 for material expenses. Other than that, I just really wanted to make the mask, because I thought it was the right thing. Once I made the first set, it just kind of became my mission for the foreseeable future.”

Watson dedicated 10 to 15 hours a day to sewing masks, making more than 2,000 by early summer. She asked clients for donations of $5 to cover material expenses but required no fees for nurses, emergency workers and nursing home staffers. Watson had no issue churning out mask after mask for the greater good. 

This is typical of Watson, said Susan Hogan, a friend who nominated Watson to be an Everyday Hero. When Hogan moved to Columbus from San Francisco, she hired Watson to babysit her 1-year-old daughter. Watson impressed Hogan with her warm and caring personality. Because Hogan didn’t know many other people in town, Watson even invited Hogan and her family to spend Thanksgiving with her. “She really is a blessing on my family,” Hogan says.

As word spread of Watson’s mask mission, people showed their gratitude for all she has done for the community. Watson eventually began to discover checks in the mail that more than covered material expenses and helped Watson to carry on without financial stress. People from all over the city began to leave sewing materials on her doorstep. Watson was overwhelmed by the acts of kindness and saw them as a gift from God.

“To see God’s blessing outside of church is a wonderful thing,” said Watson.

Watson’s family also was supportive. Her husband, Derek, a staunch advocate of his wife, took care of everything around the house so she could focus on masks. While hesitant of the idea of masks initially, he is now amazed by her hard work and dedication. With Watson’s mother helping with sewing and her kids hitting the books so their mother did not have to worry, Watson had a loving team beside her every step of the way.

“My family working so hard is what really helped me focus on the masks,” said Watson. “God blessed me with a wonderful family, and I couldn’t have done this thing without them.”

In a way, the pandemic allowed Watson to focus on what she loves the most: helping people. From her days as a youth counselor to her mask-making mission, Amy Watson will always be there in a stitch in time.