Dorothy Maminski went to work at 14. By 17, she was working in garment factories and stayed in that profession for 50 years. Maminski is now retired, but only in that she’s not working for a living.
She’s 97 and is still hard at work on her sewing machines in her Wesley Enhanced Living Pennypack apartment for three or four hours a day, making dresses for children in Mexico.
Maminski has two sewing machines to make dresses for girls 3- to 12-years-old who live in the impoverished Parish of Child Jesus in Chimalhuacan, Mexico.
The raw material for the garments might be surprising. The dresses, trimmed with lace, ribbons and braid, are made from pillowcases, Maminski said. You would never guess that to see them because they look like brightly colored sun dresses that could be bought in any American department store. And at good prices, too.
She uses one pillowcase per dress, she said, and does all the work without any help.
“I was the only one who wanted to sew,” she said, but it’s work she can do with the familiarity that comes from decades of experience. There’s not a machine in the garment industry she doesn’t know how to use, she said.
“To me, nothing is hard as far as sewing goes,” Maminski said during a May 21 interview in her Roosevelt Boulevard apartment.
What’s a little different for her recently is that a sewing machine she had used for 72 years finally gave up the ghost and she’s had to get used to a newer model. The results are still amazing.
Maminski’s dresses were sent to the Trinitarian Sisters who minister to the parish outside Mexico City, said Wesley spokeswoman Karen Doler.
Sister Grace Raymond Tighe on May 15 sent Maminski a letter describing the dresses’ distribution.
The first little girls who received the dresses “literally were in ecstasy,” Sister Grace wrote. “They live seven children with their mother in one room of grey brick and a roof of cardboard shingles. I am sure they never dreamed of having anything so beautiful.”
The second home the nuns visited housed two families of cousins — three girls and four boys. “These little girls jumped up and down with glee,” Sister Grace told Maminski. “They were so proud. … This never happens ever.”
Maminski said she buys all the trimmings that turn pillowcases into such stunning garments, but could use some help with pillowcases if she is to continue.
Doler said new pillowcases are preferred, and they can be dropped off at the reception desk at Wesley Enhanced Living Pennypack, 8401 Roosevelt Blvd., during business hours. ••