PORTLAND, Maine — The pandemic has given local quilter Jami Bouley the chance to spend even more time with his fabric.
"This was my sanctuary. I would come to my garage and spend hours and hours out here," Bouley said.
Bouley is a quilter by hobby and has been working on his skills for roughly 15 years. By trade, however, Bouley is a registered nurse. When the pandemic first started, he was working in an oncology unit, and his garage workspace acted as a place to isolate and stay COVID-19 free to continue supporting his patients.
"I was able to take my quilting and use it as an opportunity to just decompress from my day," he said.
While Bouley and his colleagues have worked to keep Mainers safe and healthy, they've also taken note of someone working to do the same: Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah.
Roughly one year ago, a coworker of Bouley's who knew of his sewing skills, asked him to make a scrub cap featuring fabric with Shah's face.
Bouley said he got permission from Shah before he made them. According to Bouley, Shah loved the idea but requested that if he ever wanted to sell them, that the profits all go to charity. So that's exactly what Bouley is doing.
Bouley has built up an impressive collection of Shah-related masks, quilts, pillows, and scrub caps, that will now be auctioned off with all proceeds going to benefit the Preble Street Resource Center in Portland.
"Not only are we honoring him, but like you said, we're able to give back to the community," Bouley said.
Bouley said he chose Preble Street to be the recipient of the proceeds due to the important work they've been doing to support those experiencing homelessness amid the pandemic, and the increased demand the non-profit is seeing.
"Preble Street is currently serving more people than ever before through over a dozen programs, so we are very thankful for Jami's support and the support of anyone who participates in this fundraiser," said Jen Tibbals, a communications coordinator with Preble Street.
Bouley isn't the only person to use Shah's likeness to help support others in Maine. In 2020, Wilbur's of Maine released the "Shah Bar."
"Now we've sold over 26,000 in about a year, so obviously I underestimated the reach," said Wilbur's owner Andy Wilbur.
Like Bouley's quilts, proceeds from the Shah Bar also go to benefit those in need.
"10% of sales, which really amounts to all proceeds from each of the bars goes to food pantries, so we've donated just under $6000 so far," said Wilbur.
Two Mainers using their own craft, and the likeness of a newfound state celebrity, to help others in need.
The online auction for the Dr. Shah-themed quilts, blankets, masks, and scrub caps is live now and runs through May 1.
You can bid on these items by visiting Wicked Awesome Quilt's website.