When Canadian Reverend Glenn Stone first heard of Chiang Mai from a friend, he immediately felt the need to visit. It was 2011 and he was an episcopal priest in the Diocese of Eastern Michigan, USA. Since then he has been coming here once or twice a year until his retirement four years when he decided to move here permanently and enjoy days in our warmer climes, which he finally did last year.
When the pandemic hit, the St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Otter Lake, Michigan (population 389) contacted him to ask how they could help. As he is currently renting his accommodation from the owner of the Shinawatra Thai Silk on Huay Kaew road, he asked her what he could do and she suggested purchasing masks.
“I did not think for very long before I said to the church that they could offer support by providing the funds for facial masks here in Chiang Mai,” Rev Glenn told Citylife. “The masks would be for those who cannot afford to buy them, those who cannot find them, or those who for reasons of other challenges should be wearing a facial mask but do not. Gratefully the church provided me with a generous financial gift which has enabled me to purchase facial masks and to distribute them.”
The reverend bought the first order of 1,000 surgical masks from Lazada, paying 9 baht per mask. After that first order he was told that they were no longer selling in bulk, so he had to go to various pharmacies to purchase them. “There was a limit of 10 per customer, however I told them that I am a priest and donating the masks to those in need and so they would let me buy 40 at a time. I paid about 3.5 baht each. When I could no longer buy from the pharmacies as they were out of stock, I approached my landlady at Shinawatra and I told her that I had 43 US dollars left. She made me 50 which is just less than one dollar each and they are washable and three-ply. The church then gave me another 200 dollars and she has now made me 218 washable masks.”
“To date, I have given the masks to the students at a school for the deaf, visitors who have not been able to leave Thailand to return home and have needed masks, a local massage shop who are amongst the vulnerable and those who are either physically or mentally challenged. I have also given masks to the Buddhist temple in Santitham and the community pantry on Sirimankalajarn Road. The gift has been a real blessing and it is another sign of the ministry of the Church at work beyond the brick and mortar and while the brick and mortar church remain closed for reasons of the pandemic, the folks in Otter Lake have been able to reach out to the folks in Chiang Mai!”