Like nearly everything related to Big Ocean Women, the newly formed St. George, Utah cottage began with one person inviting friends to attend a Big Ocean meeting or activity. Cathy Mauluulu, a cottage leader and committee member and a close friend of Gloria Boberg, encouraged her and Allison Stingley to attend the U.N. Civil Society Conference last August held in Salt Lake City.
Gloria said of the U.N. conference, “We were like kids in a candy store. I had no clue there were women who worked like this. I was so glad to see babies brought in. These women didn’t stop being mothers so they could serve others. I knew I wanted to be part of this. I like their values; I love the tenets.”
Allison said, “They were so kind and friendly and fun, we couldn’t help but have a cottage!” And so it began. Gloria decided it was time and agreed to serve as president and Allison signed on as vice president. They relentlessly pursued information and instructions on how to begin. With the help of Rebecca Madsen, the St. George Cottage was formed. Then they started to ask THEIR friends to join them. Gloria and Allison said they used the “wonderful” information from the website and word of mouth to grow their cottage. They also spread the word of maternal feminism by example. What seems to work best and what they do best is service.
Fortunately, their friends included a group of women who were accustomed to serving together. It started with a Christmas party when they discovered they had skills and interest to create beauty. People who attended compared it to the big Festival of Trees held in Salt Lake County every year.
Before their first official meeting, they found a need and happily marshalled their forces to respond. Virginia Olofson, part of this unofficial group, had a daughter working as a NICU nurse in Atlanta, Georgia. She explained she and the other nurses were washing their masks out each night and reusing them. Hers was nearly worn through. She wondered if Gloria could organize a group to sew masks for them. Could they do 10 or 20? They immediately committed to 100.
Before they held their first official Big Ocean Women cottage meeting, they went to work. From their talented ranks they put together a team of cutters, pressers, and sewers. At last count, this group of 20 plus women has made over 750 medical masks. One super seamstress, Rebecca Freebarin, sewed more than 500. They not only provide the labor; they provide the materials. In addition to those sent to the hospital in Atlanta, they have provided them to three Native American reservations, three hospitals, two mental health clinics as well as another health clinic. Gloria says they will keep sewing as long as there is a need.
Gloria’s normal mode of operation is to have everyone meet at her house for lunch, brainstorming, and work. COVID-19 now prevents them from meeting together face to face, but that can’t stop this group. They spread the word of maternal feminism by example.
Their latest project was adopting the Dammeron Valley Community Garden. In addition to their core group of women, ten husbands of the members have rolled up their sleeves and gone to work. They wear masks and volunteer multiple days each week and have displayed a banner there with the mantra of Big Ocean to stand for faith, family, and motherhood. It includes an invitation for others to join and how to contact the leaders.
Here are more comments from cottage members: “Many people know about us now and are thrilled with the masks we have made. It’s a happy time sharing and helping each other and different communities. We love to serve!” “Although I’m busy, I couldn’t let this go by.” “I have been to one meeting online and really thought a lot about all the things you are doing.” “I heard about the cottage when Gloria and Allie attended the U.N. conference in Salt Lake City.”
Every cottage grows and creates its signature identity in the work of Big Ocean. One thing we already know about this cottage: it will continue to grow because these women love to serve.