Turning Caring into Action
Folsom, CA – “I said, ‘Somebody should do something about that.’ Then I realized I am somebody.” This Lily Tomlin quote epitomizes the motivation behind Janet Cottrill’s decision mid-March 2020 to address the critical need for PPEs during the Covid pandemic.
Cottrill, who was not working due to health issues, hoped to make a difference in her community. She co-founded Folsom Mask Makers (FMM) with her neighbor KC Endeman, who created the FMM Facebook page. RN Karla Burgess, retired grandmother Karen Hamer, and Cathy Hamman soon joined the effort as site administrators and the group of helpers quickly grew.
60,000 masks to date
To date, FMM has produced in excess of 60,000 masks, 2,650 scrub caps for medical staff and pediatric oncology patients, 1,310 visual masks to facilitate lip reading, hundreds of 3D printed face shields, and thousands of crocheted and 3D printed ear savers. These critical supplies have been donated to over 350 hospitals, medical and dental groups, care homes, schools, nonprofit and community organizations, and emergency service agencies in Sacramento, Placer, and El Dorado counties.
Burgess is the air traffic controller for this smooth-running, no-contact (porch drop off and pick up) system of volunteers. She serves as liaison in the community, fields requests, coordinates product logistics and distribution, and launches special teams as needed for additional products and customized projects to meet varying specifications. Hamer has taken on multiple roles as well, moderating the group, researching patterns, spearheading project teams, and working alongside Karla to manage logistics.
FMM has attracted nearly 3,000 members since March. At any given point there are approximately 100 seamstresses per product team in addition to the essential volunteers who donate 100% cotton fabric and elastic, wash and iron fabric, cut patterns, assemble kits, and pick up and drop off materials. What motivates this diverse team to generously give of themselves is perfectly captured in this Edward Everett Hale quote: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
Cathy Hamman, who learned to sew at a young age, identified FMM as an opportunity to serve her community while spending time with her mother during the Covid lockdown. Hamman, who works full-time and cares for her elderly spouse, started with sewing and coordinating kits and quickly transitioned to full-fledged supply chain management. Hamman has also served as group moderator.
Tamara Diamond Moeller
Tamara Diamond Moeller is retired and struggles with medical issues, but makes a critical contribution to FMM by donating fabric.
Frances Pena Hurlbut
Frances Pena Hurlbut, cuts patterns for others and has sewn over 1,100 masks since March. Retired from the health care industry, Hurlbut found sewing to be healing and a way “to escape the news of the disastrous effects of this horrible pandemic.”
Pamela Fleury, who lost her job due to Covid, volunteers by preparing fabric and driving to pick up and drop off materials. Fleury knows she can help make a difference no matter how small her role.
Judy Ashley has produced nearly 1,000 masks and scrub caps since March. Ashley explains, “It gives me the opportunity to put my long-time sewing skills to use to fill a hole in the community and in my life during this lockdown.”
Kathy Vaughn, who cares for her grandchildren a few days a week, has sewn over 1,100 masks since March. A two-time breast cancer survivor, Vaughn seeks ways to give back to her community in love and gratitude for her many blessings. FMM enables her to contribute to the health of her community.
Cary Ross was concerned about front line workers fighting Covid without PPEs and has used his 3D printing skills to produce over 300 face shields and 1,000 ear savers, devices worn on the back of the head to alleviate pressure and sores from elastic.
As more people return to work and school and Covid cases surge, the need for PPEs will only continue to increase. FMM is ramping up to meet this challenge and encourages the community to join their team.
For further information about volunteering and making donations, visit the Folsom Mask Makers Facebook page.