Elna Barton: A seamstress with a servant's heart

Elna Barton with her sewing machine

With a knack for sewing and quilting and a love for helping people, Elna Barton, 95, spends hours in her sewing room stitching, mending and quilting.

As a long-time resident at Good Samaritan Society – Fairview Village in Moscow, Idaho, she finds satisfaction in helping friends, neighbors and the community.

Elna donates her time making clothing alterations for friends and neighbors. She’s also made hundreds of masks over the past year and a half.

When the pandemic began, she found out the local hospital needed them, so she dug into her library of fabrics and elastic and started sewing. So far, she’s made about 350 masks.

“I usually cut out five at a time and it takes me two and a half hours by the time I get the elastic in them,” says Elna. “It’s kind of fun.”

Elna’s mother was a dressmaker in San Francisco and she taught Elna how to sew. Though she’s sewn throughout life, Elna made her first quilt about 40 years ago.

She makes about two quilts a year by hand and also makes tablecloths, which she gives to family members.

“I like having something to do,” Elna says. “I don’t like to just sit and watch TV.”

In addition to sewing, Elna volunteers in the dining room at Fairview Village. She helps set tables for about 20 people for the noon meal two days a week.

“She’s crazy active,” says Tammie Poe, a senior living sales specialist for the Moscow campus. “Every single event we have, whether it’s big or small, she has some kind of role helping out.”

In June of 2020, Elna’s fellow residents recognized her volunteer spirit by planting an Asian pear tree on the campus near her apartment. When Elna looks outside her sewing room window, she can see the tree, which has a fitting name since Elna’s maiden name is Pearson.

When Elna isn’t volunteering, she plays cards once a week with a group of friends. She also participates in the weekly women’s group and watches Jeopardy every day with a friend who has a knack for answering correctly.

She enjoys being surrounded by neighbors who are friends at Fairview Village.

“The people are nice. The staff is wonderful,” says Elna. “We always have something going on. It’s just one big family.”

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