By Angela Bernhardt, Director of Major Gifts

When the pandemic began, Sue Pretzel called the hospital in Aitken, Minnesota to see how she could help.  A lifelong quilter, she was sent a pattern for face masks and got to work at her home on Big Sandy Lake in McGregor using her vast supply of fabric to make masks for the hospital and her family.

Her daughter Katie Pretzel Tenney, living in Excelsior, using the mask pattern, started making masks for friends, family and Hammer Residences.

In addition to her full time job as Chief of Staff at Employer Health Innovation Roundtable, Katie is a franchise owner and consultant at House of Colour, helping people find their “right” colors to look and feel their absolute best. Needless to say, her face masks, like her mom’s, are beautiful! After Katie posted a picture on Instagram of the masks she and her mom were making – many showing their love of Minnesota Sports, demand went gangbusters!

The variety of masks Sue and Katie have sewn

To keep up with all the requests, they created command centers in their respective kitchens, and made a Google form to manage orders. For those wanting masks, Katie and Sue only ask for donations to two nonprofits near and dear to their hearts: NC Little Memorial Hospice, and Hammer Residences. (Katie’s husband Jeff introduced first introduced Katie to Hammer years ago, where his aunt Barb lives in a group home in Golden Valley.) They are also using donated funds to support local businesses in their communities, as well as help friends who could use extra support through these challenging times.

Since Sue and Katie began, they have made over 400 masks and raised over $3,000. Masks have been sent from coast to coast, and to friends and family near and far. In fact, what alerted Hammer to their generosity was a check received from Katie’s brother-in-law’s mother-in-law!

In these uncertain and crazy times, the kindness of so many in our community has been inspiring. Thank you, Katie and Sue, for making a difference, and for making wearing a mask FUN!

Family picture including Aunt Barb who is supported by Hammer