During the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most confusing discussions has been over whether or not you should wear masks and face coverings. Recommendations have shifted over time, until Friday, April 3, when the Centers for Disease Control issued new guidance stating that people should wear face coverings while in public.
At The Salvation Army Center of Hope shelter, a move was already afoot to find masks for the staff and around 100 residents still staying there. (More than 300 individuals and families have been previously moved out of the shelter over the last couple of weeks into local motels).
But, masks aren’t easy to come by. In fact, it’s an issue experienced nationwide – many of our healthcare workers don’t have the PPE (or personal protective equipment) they need. North Carolina has only been able to receive about half of the N95 masks it has requested from the national stockpile.
“I don’t think any state would tell you that they have everything they need right now,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said at a press briefing on Friday. “In fact, most states are on the open market, realizing that the federal government just simply doesn’t have it to give to them right now.”
Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry added: I don’t think that you’re going to find a state that will tell you they received all the personal protective equipment they require in order to stand up an adequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
And, those are just the supplies needed for healthcare workers. There’s no hope of finding enough masks for the general public.
While experts say face coverings and cloth masks aren’t guaranteed to keep you from contracting the virus, they could, however, prevent people who are unknowingly contagious from spreading their germs and the virus that causes COVID-19.
And, the good news is you don’t have to have a N95 masks to practice this safety measure. Face coverings can be made using common closet staples many of us have in our homes. And, there are countless videos and articles circulating on social media with step-by-step instructions for making your own.
That’s where volunteer Jan Grouge stepped in. On behalf of St. Matthews Catholic Church in Charlotte, Jan leads a “muffin ministry” where she and a team of bakers deliver fresh-baked muffins to area shelters several times a year.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, she knew there was another need even more urgent: masks and face-coverings for area homeless shelters. She already had some supplies on hand. She reached out to her team of bakers who could also sew. They were all eager to join the mask-making project.
“Every little bit helps,” she said. “You can’t help everybody, but you can help a few people.”
Thanks to her army of bakers-turned-sewers, the Salvation Army Center of Hope now has masks for its staff and residents. The other shelters in town do as well. She’s doing her part to “help a few.”
She’s had fun with the project as well, incorporating funny faces and emojis into her designs.
“I’ve been wearing one myself in the grocery store, and people smile at me,” she said. “I smile back, but of course, they can’t see it!”
Her goal is simple: shining a little light into a dark situation. Yes, the circumstances certainly can seem bleak. But, with people like Jan doing little things that make a big difference, those who are most vulnerable know they are not in this alone.