With medical face masks at a premium, no sooner did the word get out that cloth face coverings were needed for healthcare and other essential workers, volunteers from throughout our community mobilized to meet the need.
Jane Radatz, long-time Powegian who recently moved into a senior living community in Rancho Bernardo, posted on Nextdoor in late March to see if anyone would be interested in helping her fill an urgent request from Palomar Health to make washable cotton face coverings. She hoped to find a few sewing enthusiasts to help. What she ended up with was an army of angels who have donated over 8,000 masks in just over a month.
“The volunteers are amazing,” Jane said. “Some are sewing. Some are cutting. Some are delivering. Some are acquiring fabric. It’s been an inspiration.”
The first 6,000 cloth face masks went to Palomar Health for its staff and to distribute to community members. The group has widened its focus to all essential workers has distributed more than 2,000 face covers to senior care facilities, community clinics, food pantry volunteers, and non-profits that serve vulnerable populations during this pandemic.
Almost at the exact time Jane was making her plea on Nextdoor, another grassroots group was forming on Facebook. The Poway Face Mask Project has 100 volunteers and has donated 4,000 masks since the group formed six weeks ago.
Poway resident Anna Quint is one of the Facebook group’s leaders. She’s spent countless hours managing the group, delivering materials to volunteers, picking up finished masks and delivering them to frontline healthcare workers, nursing homes, medical facilities as well as private nurses and caregivers.
“Our members regularly express their gratitude for a group like ours that gives them a sense of purpose during such a difficult time,” Anna said.
Volunteers do what they can, whether it’s procuring materials, washing or cutting masks, or sewing the finished products. The generosity has been astounding. As elastic became scarce, one donor made a $500 purchase to distribute elastic to volunteers making masks. And it’s not just individuals getting involved. A San Diego company, whose technology is on the frontlines of COVID-19, recently allowed employees to take time out from work to cut fabric for masks.
Although many of these volunteers have never met, Anna said:
“We’ve begun to feel like a family, all working together for the common good.”