For Chapelwood member and Fair Haven go-to project volunteer Linda Padovani, making masks for the pandemic slowly began in stages.
First, it was a way to have something else helpful to give to people along with her meal deliveries from the Chapelwood Kitchen Ministry. Linda would sit down at her sewing machine and make a few more. The numbers of masks quickly began to add up. Then Linda discovered that there were lines of people waiting for pandemic services who could use a mask. So, it started “snowballing.” A group of her friends and neighbors around her cul-de-sac who had rallied around some other service projects in the past said they’d like to help.
“Our group started during Harvey. We all flooded, and we started to come together and help each other out through the mess. We were each active in our own churches but wanted to be closer as neighbors. So, we began meeting in my backyard to pray together, eat together, and care for each other. Then we began working on other homes in the neighborhood, helping there. Then when COVID-19 hit we were looking for a way we could do something together for the community.
Cyndee is really our big “sewing-know-how” person. She made a few mask and I made a few, just for the neighbor. Then I started picking up fabric on sale at Hobby Lobby and Cyndee kept testing patterns until we found one that worked best. Then we asked some medical professionals about filter options and science since N95 filters were for medical staff only. It was recommended that we try coffee filters, shop towels, or vacuum filters. We settled on shop towels, I got my teenage son involved and he cut the filters for us.
Our other neighbor works for Mary and Martha, a faith based organization that sells home decor and gift items. They had these beautiful scripture cards and we started packaging all of our masks with 3 filters and a scripture card.
Before long, five hundred masks were dropped off at Chapelwood’s Greenbay Campus.
“Then we started leaving them at Fair Haven and before long we were leaving masks at the Fair Haven Day School for kids and parents,” said Linda. Then it seemed like a good idea to provide masks for the Vacation Bible School. It had become a kind of cottage industry. Linda explained how it worked. “Cyndee and I would do the cutting and sewing. Another neighbor, Erica Stedman made the scripture cards. Then my son, John, and I would add the elastic bands and nose pieces. Then neighbors Erica and Joanna would bless and pray over the masks.”
“The response has been wonderful,” Linda said. “People have sent so many beautiful cards to thank us, even sending pictures of themselves wearing their masks.
“It has been the best gift for me doing this. I feel like I’m making a difference. My neighborhood women enjoy working together to do something good for others.”
Linda and her friends have now made and distributed 3,500 masks. They’ve said that they never imagined that they would be providing that many masks to others. It all started with a simple idea. “Why don’t I drop a mask off with the meal.”
We join others in saying “thank you!”
Bob Luton and Linda Padovani