Repairing old, damaged flags is not a cheap hobby. It’s not even a hobby some might say. But for 16-year-old Matthew, it’s more than that- it’s really what keeps him going.
Matthew Amatulli of Palm Beach, Florida, is a teenage student who is on the spectrum of autism. Watching flags fly as the wind blows them is really comforting for him. He’s always found flags fascinating and he’s always been interested in them.
“Instead of presents, he would always want flags for birthdays,” his mother said.
His passion for flags has been going since he was just three years old and he never got over them. This passion, combined with his sewing skills, was what made him conceptualize his mission of repairing every damaged flag out there.
Matthew learned how to sew at a very early age when his grandma taught him. He just loved the activity, it seemed to have a calming effect on him. So, at some point, it hit him: he’d take his love for flags to another level. The American flag is not supposed to fly in a bad condition, just like there’s no point in having empty flag poles out there- they should be filled with flags.
What could he do about it? He’d take every single damaged flag he could find and repair it using the sewing machine and some fabric of his own. In case the damage could not be repaired, he’d simply replace it.
And so he did. Using an old sewing machine and his mother’s garage as a working space, he started working on tattered flags. Once they were ready, he’d take his mother, and together, they’d find empty flag poles and put the American flag up.
While this is still a family thing, Matthew's goal goes far beyond it. His dream is to have a warehouse of his own, big enough to fit countless damaged flags, numerous machines, tons of fabric, and staff that will help him realize his dream.
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Because Matthew has set a difficult to fulfill, but inspiring mission for himself, he decided to start a GoFundMe. Donations on the platform will be used to buy fabric and sewing tools, as well as it will give him the opportunity to look for assistance. In fact, the more the amount rises the more capacity Matthew’s workshop will have.
“[He] has requested additional equipment, supplies, and assistance to process many more of the ever-growing number of flag repair and replacement requests he receives from local venues on an ongoing basis,” he explains.
For the time being, a little more than $700 has been raised, but donations keep coming. With every one of them, Matthew gets one step closer to making his dream come true. This boy’s initiative is really inspiring and it conveys an important message about autistic people.
Matthew’s story proves that autistic people are a part of our communities, and they contribute to our social lives in unique ways that have a huge impact on our lives.
We hope that he’ll reach his goal and, consequently, he’ll be able not only to repair many American flags, but at the same time help Veterans that he so admires, along with other people with autism.
- December 9 2020| Irene Markianou | Spotlight