When Rebecca Butler’s two-year old son, Colby, had to be life-flighted to the hospital during a seizure in 2001, she was particularly touched by the care and generosity that others living in her small coastal community of SWH demonstrated. She made a vow that if her son made it through his medical crisis, she would make a point to do more for others who were in similar situations.
Ten years later, Ms. Butler has done just that. She has found a project called “Island Life”, which puts her sewing expertise to use with discarded sails donated by area boatyards. She turns these damaged or unwanted sails into clever, whimsical bags with a seaside motif, that she sells locally and through social media pages. The really cool thing is what Ms. Butler does with the proceeds of the bag sales. So far, she reports using the money to give gas cards to folks attending chemotherapy treatments, buying wood for house-bound cancer patients, and cash donations to local causes such as the Sea Coast Mission’s Fishermen Fund. She reports, ” I have an amazing family who stepped in and helped put food on my table and roof over our heads, but not everyone has that. My goal is to help take away at least one day of stress for a family going through hard times.”
While Ms. Butler makes and sells these bags without assistance or a staff, she doesn’t complain and is grateful for the support she has received for her endeavor. “Really its the community standing behind what I am doing that will make the difference for so many…” The real issue seems to be in obtaining materials to create bags to fill new orders and an increased demand for these charming totes. A friend had suggested that she place her plea for discarded sails on a popular Face book page, something that she has tried. She reports overwhelming response to her request- not in the form of sails- but in a huge spike in requests for these bags!
Ms. Butler keeps her donors and patrons apprised of what she does with the proceeds through the Island Life Face book page, extending the opportunity for others to contact her when they know of someone in need that she might help out. Ms. Butler sums it up quite well: “I am still not fully sure what my purpose is here but I know what I am doing now sure in heck feels right.”