Taking action at Tinkerhaus for the Community

When the pandemic arrived, Tinkerhaus donated sewing machines, fabric, and other materials to make masks for local charities.

Allies and Partners

This is one in a continuing series of guest opinions about fostering environmental stewardship and addressing the impact of COVID-19. The series is coordinated by ACES, the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards.

About Tinkerhaus

Tinkerhaus is a 2-year-old nonprofit shared work and education space in Newburyport with a woodworking shop, sewing studio and art classroom, as well as two private workrooms and a group meeting area. We are able to operate through memberships, frequent classes and continuous fundraising. It has been an adventure trying to survive the pandemic.

Facing the Pandemic

When the pandemic arrived, Tinkerhaus donated our N95s and 3-D filament for face shields and delivered sewing machines to members’ homes, repurposing baskets of quilting fabric scraps to make masks for local charities.

We posted a daily art challenge to keep up the morale of families and assembled craft kits from woodshop scraps and repurposed class materials packaged in takeout containers donated by local businesses. We also donated sheets of poster paper for front-line worker encouragement signs.

With the future of school and work so uncertain, we swerved to provide for the emerging needs of our community with new scheduling protocols so people could use our facilities individually.

Our woodshop saw production of desks and work tables for remote workers and our smaller spaces have hosted college students who are cut off from campus resources.

Other Additions

Other additions include free outdoor kid classes and opening our space to the Maudslay outdoor sculpture show to produce sign holders they need for the “new normal.” Sharing our kit-making skills with local organizations has helped them adapt.

Despite the loss of revenue from class fees and event charges, our commitment to sustainability and to serving the community remains strong.

We will be offering very small indoor classes as the weather gets colder, as well as some online and online Zoom instruction. However, we are in need of additional teachers since most of our instructors are also school teachers and parents of remote learners.

If you have any maker skills you are willing to share, in person or virtually, please be in touch and contact us at

To learn more about ACES and our stewardship initiatives, please view our website —

Mary MacDonald is the owner of Tinkerhaus in Newburyport and can be reached at

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about the author
Mary McDonald

Always preferring small groups with hands-on activities, Mary used her education degree to teach in non-school settings. After decades spent at nature centers and museums, she discovered "Makerspaces" and established Tinkerhaus.

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